Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Governor's Supplemental Budget for '09

**UPDATE** Via Justin Katz at Anchor Rising:

Article #7 suspends any General Revenue Sharing payments for the current fiscal year: loss of $55.1 million
#17 freezes the tax rate applied for the Public Service Corporation (Telephone) Tax to stop further losses in tax revenue which goes to cities and towns
#19 creates a statewide health insurance contract which municipalities may opt out of if they can prove they’re realizing more savings under their own plan
#20 expands joint purchasing opportunities to services
#21 establishes a panel to resolve school-municipal budget disputes in any year there is a reduction in general or education aid
#40 establishes last-best offer, total package arbitration as the impasse procedure to resolve contract disputes with police and firefighter unions
#41 establishes several commissions to study and report on municipal public safety and other consolidations/mergers by March 10, 2010
#42 expands the criteria that arbitration panels must consider in rendering their decision and allows for arbitration awards to be up to three (3) years in duration
#43 removes all issues related to manpower levels and deployment from police and firefighter collective bargaining
#44 mandates a 25% health insurance (including dental and vision care) co-payment for all municipal employees and school teachers
#45 makes major changes to the Municipal Employees Retirement System and also affects private, municipally-administered pension plans (e.g. 1% increase in employee contributions, 50% disability pensions, min. 30 years service or age 59, 25 years service for public safety pensions)
#46 reduces on-the-job injury pay to police and firefighters to 80% of pay rather than 100% of their pay
#47 prohibits municipal employees from being sued in their personal or individual capacity, limits joint and several liability and eliminates the award of pre-judgment interest by the courts

and from Carol Andrew Morse:

Eliminate General Revenue Sharing to Cities and Towns $55.1M
State Agency Corrective Action Plans $51.2M
Reduce Local Education Aid, Corresponding to Pension Contribution Deferral $41.1M
Defer Repayment to Rhode Island Capital Plan Fund $38.4M
Lowered Teacher's Retirement Fund Contribution $28.1M
Anticipated "Medicaid Stimulus" $27.5M
Lower State Employee Retirement Contribution $25.9M
Increased Revenue from Raising Cigarette Tax $17.4M
Medicaid CNOM Savings $10.5M
Defer Station Fire Settlement Payments $10.0M

$305 million in savings.***

This is what Governor Carcieri proposes to get us out of the hole by $357 million (20 min. speech). No surprises here.

1. Public employee pension changes- min. retirement age of 59 (35 yrs.), goodbye COLA's- going forward, defined retirement plan (e.g., 401 K's) $100M in savings

2. Aid to towns & cities- 6% reduction for the rest of the year. This will also be accompanied by a single statewide healthcare contract, elimination of state many mandates (e.g., bus monitors, fire trucks), and a statewide food service contract. Gov't commission to explore combining 39 towns & cities (regionalize) with extensive powers to force referendum votes on this.

3. Delivery of social services- Lege must pass the global Medicaid waiver.

Also not spoke of but mentioned by the newscasters are the specifics of: $1 cigarette tax raise, & higher DMV charges, pension reduction costs for towns & cities (75%),

4. No broad-based tax increases.

Fed'l monies to be used to lower taxes, create growth, & stimulate the economy. Some must be set aside for likely worsening conditions. Various state offices may be closed on a regular basis. Sacrifice, support, & understanding by the public is needed.

I was not able to locate the $ amount of local aid being held back online. Here are the 2009 amounts from the Budget Office. In red is the minus 6% figure:

Middletown: $2,097,859 (-$125,871), Newport: $4,576,145 (-$274,568), Tiverton: $2,083,573 (-$125,014), Little Compton: $419,987 (-$25,199)

I did ask Middletown Town Council & School Committee Chair for initial comments. I'm hoping that we'll hear from Newport's Sandra Flowers (School Committee). At some point I'll follow up with our State Legislators.
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