Lawmakers weighing plan to close $235M budget deficit

Rhode Island State House. Photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island lawmakers will consider on Tuesday a plan to close a projected $235 million deficit caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The General Assembly’s House and Senate finance committees are slated to hold hearings and likely vote on the Democratic leadership’s plan, which was released late Monday.

House Democrats propose using about $120 million of the state’s $200 million rainy day fund to address the bulk of the shortfall in the budget year that ends June 30.

Federal aid to help the state address the pandemic would help close the remaining deficit, under the proposal.

The revised $11.8 billion budget for the current year represents a $1.8 billion increase from the spending plan lawmakers approved last July.

Much of that is also due to federal aid, including $1.25 billion from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act.

Assembly leaders have said they don’t plan to address a more than $500 million shortfall for the budget year that starts July 1 until they know whether Congress plans to provide states with further aid.

Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo said Monday a second round of federal stimulus aid is critical for the state to avoid layoffs, furloughs, and other drastic cost cutting measures.