House leadership briefs lawmakers on proposed state budget

photo by Tessa Roy WPRO News

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello told fellow lawmakers Tuesday that they may have a more detailed framework for sports betting by the time they vote on the state’s $9.55 billion budget.

If the more detailed plan isn’t ready, the Democratic speaker said they would keep the more general language authorizing the governor to reach a deal to begin sports betting at two casinos in Rhode Island, subject to the General Assembly’s approval.

The House is expected to vote on the budget articles Friday. It would go to the Senate for approval next week if passed.

Mattiello made the comments during a briefing for House members about the budget. He declined to elaborate on the more detailed plan afterward.

House Majority Leader Joseph Shekarchi said he has been meeting with the Department of Revenue and members of the Senate to try to iron out the language. Members of the state police’s gaming integrity unit will attend the next meeting.

Mattiello also told his colleagues that they resolved one key budget issue by settling a court case with 59 nursing homes regarding their Medicaid payments. The state had been facing a judgment that could have cost $24 million.

He said all 59 nursing homes agreed to the settlement and he expects them to dismiss their lawsuit Wednesday.

The budget also would ask voters to authorize $250 million in bonds for school construction. Mattiello said he expects voters to pass that measure overwhelmingly in November.

House finance members also nixed Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo’s plan to expand the number of medical marijuana licenses in the state.

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