The General Assembly as soon as this week will approve a fiscal 2012 budget, sending it to Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee. Unfortunately, this budget plan represents another lost opportunity.
In paring back the governor’s sales tax restructuring plan, one that would have placed an additional $165.8 million burden on the public, as well as removing provisions for combined reporting and a restructuring of the corporate tax, the House Finance Committee did the state’s businesses (and its economic health) a service.
But the House did not follow the governor’s call for state employees to make a one-time increase in the amount of money they contribute to their retirement assets, what amounted to a down payment for additional changes to the pension system that are expected to come in the special session of the legislature that is scheduled for the fall.
More importantly, this budget looks to be only a placeholder for the real difficult work that is to take place in that special session, with input from the governor and General Treasurer Gina M. Raimondo.
It would have been better if this version of the bill had made explicit the need for state workers to contribute more toward their retirement, as well as remove the guaranteed cost-of-living increases that have been driving up the pension costs to the state’s taxpayers.
For all our sakes, the General Assembly must not skate on the need to fix the problem once and for all this fall. •