GoLocalProv | McKee Budget – No increase in taxes or fees, $167 million for Slater Hospital over 7 years
Thursday, January 20, 2022
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Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee released his proposed budget for the 2022-2023 fiscal year, totaling $12.8 billion in spending.
The budget is bolstered for the second year with massive federal pandemic dollars, creating an unprecedented influx of discretionary funds.
There are hundreds of millions going to cities and towns. State spending under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) is $1.1 billion, and the state has an estimated surplus of $600 million.
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Additionally, there are other pots of federal funds that have yet to be fully spent.
The budget includes $167.8 million in spending for the Eleanor Slater Hospital over the next seven years.
State projects $618.4 million surplus for current year (fiscal 2022) and McKee recommends transferring $210 million to Rhode Island Capital Plan Fund to support improvements by Eleanor Slater and others state facilities.
The funding would cover a new medical facility, upgrades to existing buildings and the development of a long-awaited electronic medical records system.
“Eleanor Slater Hospital cares for some of our state’s most vulnerable residents,” McKee said. “Now is the time to make meaningful investments that will provide better care for patients, better conditions for staff and tackle decades of deferred maintenance. I look forward to working with the General Assembly to achieve this.
Slater plan has backing from GOP leader
Senate Minority Whip Jessica de la Cruz (R-Dist. 23, Burrillville, Glocester, North Smithfield) said she supports the McKee plan for Slater.
“Our first and most important responsibility is to help people who cannot help themselves,” de la Cruz said. “It’s such a relief that [Zambarano] patients and their families will finally get the repairs they desperately need at this beloved facility. Under this proposal, more than $108 million will be allocated to build a new facility on the Burrillville campus by 2028 and millions more for necessary updates.
“This is a huge win for patients, their families, and the state of Rhode Island,” she said. “This is not just a band aid, the improvements we make will benefit generations of Rhode Islanders to come. This is a good start to strengthen our infrastructure to support our most vulnerable people.
“The importance of these investments cannot be overstated,” said Richard Charest, director of the Department of Behavioral Health, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals and CEO of Eleanor Slater Hospital. “These projects will better position the hospital to carry out its mission of caring for Rhode Islanders who need our services for long-term medical and psychiatric conditions, and they will help our staff in the execution of this work. We are grateful for the Governor’s support.
Largest single investment – $108.2 million – will fund a new medical facility on the Zambarano campus, with more than 100 beds adapted to meet the needs of patients already served at the facility, as well as on-call services limited in the state and for specialized populations. The new structure will succeed the Beazley Building as the medical facility on the Zambarano campus in Burrillville, providing a “modern, cost-effective facility in which the hospital will care for patients with long-term medical needs,” McKee said. .
The budget also invests $14.3 million at the Burrillville campus for repairs and upgrades to buildings, equipment and utilities. This multi-year project, according to McKee, “will ensure the reliability of infrastructure on campus, including water distribution, wastewater treatment and sewer systems.” An additional $3.2 million is funding the installation of a ventilator at the Beazley Building to better treat patients with specialized needs.
At Eleanor Slater’s Cranston campus, the Governor’s budget recommends $19.7 million from the proceeds of existing debt to improve the life and security of the Regan Building.
Critics want the budget to include funding to fight hunger
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While Slater’s proposal garnered support, hunger advocates criticized the budget, saying the lack of funding fails to “address the worst hunger problem since the Great Depression.”
Dr. Amy Nunn, executive director of the Rhode Island Public Health Institute — on behalf of the Nourish Rhode Island Coalition of more than 40 community groups — denounced the lack of funding.
Nunn said in a statement, “At a time when one in four Rhode Island families with children are going hungry, we are disappointed that Governor McKee’s budget proposal does not include measures to specifically address the food crisis. hunger in the state.
“We recommended a federal funding allocation, secured by the American Rescue Plan Act and intended to meet immediate needs, to pilot a statewide SNAP retail incentive program that would provide recipients with the SNAP statewide 50% rebate on fresh fruits and vegetables,” she added. “This is a ready-to-implement plan that would require no tax increases and would have an immediate impact in Rhode Island. It would help tens of thousands of needy families put healthy food on their tables and support the local economy by boosting sales. at local grocery stores.
“Tackling the hunger crisis in Rhode Island cannot wait. It is an issue that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is one that disproportionately affects communities of color , seniors and children across the state,” she added.
Cities and towns: Marijuana legalization also needs to be addressed
In McKee’s budget, he included the legalization of marijuana in Rhode Island, which caused concern from the Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns.
In his budget, McKee recommends creating a “strictly regulated legal market for adult-use cannabis in the state.”
This proposal would create a weight-based excise tax on growing marijuana, an additional 10% excise tax on retail sales, and also apply a sales tax to cannabis transactions. The proposal allocates 25% of these revenues (along with license fee revenues) to regulatory, public health and public safety costs associated with adult cannabis use. An additional 15% of this revenue is allocated to towns and villages. This revenue proposal reflects the budget previously recommended by the Governor.
Adult-use cannabis sales are expected to begin in April 2023, according to the McKee administration, which states that “even with limited sales revenue in fiscal year 2023, the portion of revenue devoted to state expenditures is temporarily increased to 89% in fiscal year 2023. This is expected to generate $8.0 million in restricted receipt revenue in fiscal year 2023, much of it to support regulatory oversight at the Department of Business Regulation, the Department of Health and the Division of Taxation.”
“These revenues also support a variety of public health and safety needs, including a $1.1 million investment dedicated to Equity Zones, $0.5 million in funding for local police, and $0.3 million to help the state oversee prevention and treatment programs. Beyond the portion dedicated to state expenditures, the proposal will result in overall revenue of $1.2 million over the course of the year. 2023. General revenue will increase to $16.9 million with a full year of sales in fiscal 2024,” the budget proposal continues.
“The League of Towns and Villages appreciates the Governor’s commitment to municipalities and the work we are doing locally, especially as we continue to address new challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the mayor said Thursday. of North Providence and SU President Charles Lombardi.
“While cities and towns have seen an influx of federal aid to support our economic recovery from COVID-19, we are pleased to see stable levels of local and education aid in this budget. This will ensure that cities and towns can maintain basic municipal operations while investing one-time federal funds in needed capital improvements,” Lombardi said. following the pandemic.”
“As we seek to strengthen our national and local economy, we support tangible property tax reforms, which burden small businesses. The governor also recognized the need for communities to define their own sources of revenue,” he added. “While we recognize the revenue potential of marijuana, there are many considerations for municipalities, including local approvals and public safety that will need to be discussed further. As the legalization of marijuana will have long-lasting impacts term on towns and villages, the League will continue to advocate for local communities to be in control whatever decisions are made about implementation.”
Lombardi also spoke about McKee’s housing proposal.
“The Governor’s housing proposal is a positive first step in addressing the current crisis. Increasing housing stock, along with infrastructure investments to support this new development, will open up new opportunities for families in Rhode Island,” said Lombardi.
Help for businesses COVID and more
McKee’s budget proposal includes $180 million for assistance to small businesses and industries affected by the pandemic, including $45 million for small business grants and $47 million for the Rhode Island Convention Center.
The budget proposal also contains $152 million for ongoing COVID-19 pandemic-related expenses for testing and vaccinations and $50 million for health facilities.
The proposed budget includes $118 million for children, families and early learning, including $15 million for eleven proposed municipal learning centers.