Rhode Island to shutdown for 12 days
In a bid to save $67.8 million in its fiscal year (FY) 2010 budget, Rhode Island will shut down government services for 12 nonconsecutive days between September and June 2010. The state also plans to implement other cost-saving measures, including withholding from cities and towns the fourth-quarter proceeds from the state’s vehicle excise tax.
The measures are necessary to help compensate for the nearly $1 billion revenue loss that the state has suffered over the past two years, Rhode Island Gov. Donald Carcieri said in a statement. “We have managed through this crisis with reductions in state spending, improved operating efficiencies, and without raising broad-based taxes. We have achieved equally significant savings through changes to our healthcare plan, major pension reform, a massive reduction in state employment levels, changes to social service programs, and some cuts to local aid,” Carcieri said. “Even with these efforts, we are faced with more daunting challenges. The state’s FY 2010 budget requires my administration to find $68.7 million in unspecified savings. With most efficiencies already attained, and staffing reductions already made, there are few options left to cut costs.”
The shutdown days will occur once a month, primarily on Fridays, with one Thursday in November. Each shutdown day is expected to save the state $1.4 million for a total of $17.3 million. However, Carcieri said the shutdowns, even combined with operational efficiencies, would not be enough, forcing him to seek the authority to withhold the vehicle excise tax, a power stripped from the governorship in 1996.
Municipalities in the state receive $1 billion of the state’s $3.1 billion general funds on top of nearly $2 billion in local property tax and other taxes that the cities collect, Carcieri said. “In these extraordinary times, I need the flexibility to withhold appropriations to properly manage the execution of the budget,” the governor said. “We cannot continue to funnel money to the cities and towns without their participation in the state’s budget conversation.”