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Rhode Island an outlier in release of pandemic relief funds, reconvening legislature, and not doing a state budget

Rhode Island is an outlier in not releasing pandemic relief funds, not convening legislature, and not doing a state budget.

A comparison of the 5 New England states for release of relief funds, only:

Rhode Island 24%

Connecticut 71%

New Hampshire 80%

Vermont 100%

Maine 55%

Of these five states, only RI has not passed a budget – Connecticut has an interim, and the other states have passed new budgets.

Rhode Island House Republican Caucus Issues Northeast State COVID-19 Operations Fact Sheet: Rhode Island is an outlier when it comes to not convening legislature, not addressing the state budget, and the limited distribution of Coronavirus Relief Funds.

Recent statements that Rhode Island is in lock-step with neighboring states on certain coronavirus pandemic measures made by the Speaker of the House and the Governor and being taken to task by the Rhode Island House Republican Caucus, as they issue a detailed comparison.

The primary issue of disbursement of Coronavirus Relief Funds has met with the Governor’s explanation that she is “saving” much of the funds until a budget is done, and neither could be completed until RI learns what federal assistance, if any, is coming to the state before the end of the year.

Measures of neighboring states regarding the status of state budgets, convening of General Assemblies, and disbursement of federal Coronavirus Relief Funds, compel the Rhode Island House Republican Caucus to issue the following fact sheet demonstrating that Rhode Island is in fact an outlier:

Nationwide State Budgets

  • Sixteen states across the U.S. enacted biennial budgets in 2019 for FY20 and FY21.
  • Of the remaining 34 states, 30 states were able to pass a FY21 budget in 2020, prior to October 16, 2020.
  • Of the four states still without a FY21 budget, two convened to pass interim budgets during COVID (MA, PA). Only R.I and S.C. have not passed a budget covering FY21 or an interim budget.

Northeast Region States: Convening of State Legislatures, State Budgets, and the Disbursement of Coronavirus Relief Funds

  • Rhode Island
    • Reconvened in-person, the week of July 13th to approve FY20 supplemental budget. Held a two Joint COVID Relief Task Force meetings, and multiple Finance Committee meetings, with testimony offered via remote participation methods.
    • Rhode Island has not passed a FY21 budget and is operating off of FY20’s funding levels.
    • Only 2 states across the US are operating under last year’s spending levels:  Rhode Island and South Carolina.
    • RI received $1.25 billion in Coronavirus Relief Funds, with 24% spent as of September 30th, equaling $299 million.
  • Connecticut
    • Adjourned sine die May 6th. Special session July 23rd. Special session September 29th. Special session adjourned sine die Oct. 2 – Last session was in-person while commissions were held on Zoom, Teams, etc.
    • Connecticut passed a biennial budget for FY’s 20-21 during the 2019 legislative session.
    • Connecticut received $1.4 billion in Coronavirus Relief Funds, with 71% spent as of September 20th, equaling $975 million.
  • Massachusetts
    • Some House and Senate meetings are in-person, while commissions are being held remotely, according to the General Court’s website.
    • Massachusetts has not passed a FY21 budget. Instead Massachusetts enacted two interim budgets on June 26th and July 28th, the second of which is due to expire at the end of October.
    • Massachusetts received $2.4 billion in Coronavirus Relief Funds, with 83% spent as of July 16th, equaling $2 billion.
  • New Hampshire
    • Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the General Court is conducting legislative activities remotely, with the exception of publicly noticed sessions on the House or Senate Calendar. Met in-person on June 30th with the 400-member House in a large auditorium/stadium. Have adjourned as of August 20th.
    • New Hampshire passed a biennial budget for FY’s 20-21 during the 2019 legislative session.
    • New Hampshire received $1.25 billion in Coronavirus Relief Funds, with 80% spent as of September 11th, equaling $1 billion.
  • Vermont
    • Last met September 25th – adjourned sine die after this date. Last meeting was remote.
    • Vermont’s Governor Scott signed the FY21 budget into law on October 2nd, three months after the July 1st start of the Fiscal Year.
    • Vermont received $1.25 in Coronavirus Relief Funds, with 100% spent as of September 10th.
  • Maine
    • Adjourned sine die on March 17th. Senate held in-person special session on August 24th for appointment confirmations.
    • Maine passed a biennial budget for FY20-21 during the 2019 legislative session.
    • Maine received $1.25 billion in Coronavirus Relief Funds, with 55% spent as of September 29th, equaling $685 million.
  • New York
    • Remote meetings for both chambers. Assembly and Senate met once in late March/ Early April for budget meetings. Recent committee meetings are all virtual.
    • New York’s Governor Cuomo signed the FY21 budget into law on April 3rd, after passage by the legislature on April 2nd.  New York’s Fiscal Year begins in April.
    • New York received $5.1 billion in Coronavirus Relief Funds, with 42% spent as of June 30th, equaling $2.2 billion. (Due to amended reporting requirements, this number will be updated in December.)
  • Pennsylvania
    • Recently scheduled in-person House and Senate sessions for the week of October 19th.
    • Pennsylvania has not passed a FY21 budget. Instead they enacted a five-month interim budget, passed on June 24th, which is due to expire at the end of November.
    • Pennsylvania received $3.9 billion in Coronavirus Relief Funds, with 67% spent as of October 16, equaling $2.6 billion.
  • New Jersey
    • Meeting in-person. Committees /commissions remained closed to the public for in-person testimony but the public can engage remotely
    • New Jersey’s Governor Murphy signed the FY21 budget into law on September 29th, after passage by the legislature on September 24th.  FY21 was scheduled to start on July 1st, but FY20 was extended until October 1st.
    • New Jersey received $2.4 billion in Coronavirus Relief Funds, with 10% spent as of July 22nd, equaling $229 million. (Due to amended reporting requirements, this number will be updated in December.)
  • Delaware
    • According to the Delaware General Assembly website they have not reconvened yet – “The Senate stands in recess to the call of the President Pro Tempore.  The House stands in recess to the call of the Speaker.” Some committee’s and commissions are scheduled for the coming weeks to meet virtually.
    • Delaware’s Governor Carney signed the FY21 budget into law on June 30th, after passage by the legislature on June 24th.
    • Delaware received $1.25 billion in Coronavirus Relief Funds, with 66% spent as of September 29th, equaling $824 million.
  • Maryland
    • Adjourned sine die March 18th – no meetings since.
    • Maryland enacted their FY21 budget on March 12th.
    • Maryland received $1.6 billion in Coronavirus Relief Funds, with 93% spent as of September 3rd, equaling $1.5 billion.

According to the Caucus: This data verifies that Rhode Island is not in lock-step with the rest of our regional neighbors in these key areas of state government operations. Legislatures across the North East are meeting and passing budgets, and most of these states are distributing the federal Coronavirus Relief Funds at a far higher rate than Rhode Island. Accordingly, the Rhode Island House Republican Caucus again calls on the General Assembly to reconvene and undertake the necessary work to pass a full or interim budget, and for the Governor to begin the rapid disbursement of the Coronavirus Relief Funds – just as our neighbors have effectively done for months.  

The Rhode Island House of Representatives Minority Caucus (Republican) is comprised of the following elected members representing constituents who live in the following districts throughout the Ocean State:  Minority Leader, Blake Filippi, District 36 (Charlestown, South Kingstown, Westerly, New Shoreham); Minority Whip, Michael Chippendale, District 40 (Foster, Glocester, Coventry); Representative John Lyle, Jr., District 46 (Lincoln, Pawtucket); Representative George Nardone, District 28 (Coventry); Representative Brian Newberry, District 48 (North Smithfield, Burrillville);  Representative David Place, District 47 (Burrillville, Glocester); Senior Deputy Minority Leader Justin Price, District 39 (Exeter, Hopkinton, Richmond); Deputy Minority Leader Robert Quattrocchi, District 41 (Scituate, Cranston); Representative Sherry Roberts, District 29 (Coventry, West Greenwich).

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