PROVIDENCE — The Rhode Island General Assembly has approved the $9.56 billion state budget with Senate passage of the measure on a 34-2 vote Wednesday. The bill now heads to the governor’s desk, as the Senate made no changes to the House spending plan, which was approved 66-7 on June 15.
The proposal would allow the state to implement sports betting at two Twin River casinos. It asks voters to authorize $250 million in bonds for school construction, and restores funding to people with developmental disabilities.
It also would increase the fee that medical marijuana dispensaries pay to the state from $5,000 to $250,000.
The 2018-19 budget is about $300 million more than last year’s spending plan. House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said it maintains services without broad tax increases. It also continues the phaseout of the local car tax that began with last year’s budget.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman William T. Conley, D-East Providence, said, “This budget accomplishes a great deal for Rhode Islanders by using our resources carefully. We’ve been able to restore funding to help people with disabilities and the Department of Children, Youth and Families. We eliminated almost every transfer to the General Fund from the accounts of quasi-public agencies and state departments, and avoided raising any broad-based taxes. We also moved quickly to be an early adopter of sports betting, and negotiated a very competitive share for the state.”
“Additionally, the inclusion of the school construction bond that will help address Rhode Island’s crumbling public school buildings was one the Senate’s top priorities, and I believe Rhode Islanders will support this effort to invest in our schools,” Conley said.