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RIPEC: Growth in spending slower in R.I. but Medicaid payouts above U.S. average

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(Updated, Dec. 2)

PROVIDENCE – Medicaid-related vendor payments accounted for more than 20 percent of state and local government spending in Rhode Island in 2009, and over the last 10 years have increased as a portion of the public-sector spending significantly more than the rest of the country, according to a new report from the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council.

The report from the budget watchdog group found public-sector spending – by both state and municipal government – in the Ocean State rose 68.9 percent over the 10-year period to $8.9 billion per year, a smaller increase than the 77 percent jump nationally.

Both across the country and in Rhode Island, spending on social services, libraries, education and income maintenance accounted for 60 percent of all direct expenditures. But in Rhode Island, payments to vendors, representing mostly Medicaid spending, made up 21.1 percent of government spending, compared with 13.1 percent nationally, the RIPEC report said.

In what the report said represented the first effects of the recession, Rhode Island government spending dropped 0.5 percent from fiscal 2008 to fiscal 2009, the last year figures were available. During the same period, government spending nationally rose 3.1 percent, the report said.

“The data show the first impact of the fiscal crisis on state and local budgets, and we anticipate future data will demonstrate the depth of the economic downturn in Rhode Island compared to our peer states and the national average,” said RIPEC Executive Director John C. Simmons in a summary of the report released Thursday.

To see the report in full, CLICK HERE.

Update to clarify the first paragraph.

john c. simmons, ripec, rhode island public expenditure council, public spending, social service spending

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