Woonsocket Call

House fi­nance panel ap­proves $9.6 bil­lion R.I. bud­get pro­posal

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PROV­I­DENCE. (AP) — The House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives un­veiled its $9.6 bil­lion bud­get pro­posal Fri­day night, a plan that in­cludes fund­ing for school con­struc­tion, le­gal­izes sports bet­ting and nixes the gover­nor’s plan to ex­pand the num­ber of med­i­cal mar­i­juana li­censes in the state.

The House Fi­nance Com­mit­tee passed the bill later Fri­day night. The full House is ex­pected to con­sider the pro­posal next week.

The House bud­get kept many of the themes laid out by Demo­cratic Gov. Gina Rai­mondo in Jan­uary. Both bud­gets would ask vot­ers to au­tho­rize $250 mil­lion in bonds for the first phase of an am­bi­tious school re­con­struc­tion plan, and both would le­gal­ize sports gam­bling in the state.

The House re­buffed the gover­nor’s pro­posal to in­crease the num­ber of med­i­cal mar­i­juana li­censes the state grants.

Here’s a look at some of the bud­get’s key items:

SPORTS BET­TING

The state is look­ing to be­come one of the first in the na­tion to get in on the new mar­ket for sports bet­ting freed up by the Supreme Court ear­lier this year. The gover­nor al­lot­ted $23.5 mil­lion in rev­enue from the new sys­tem in her Jan­uary pro­posal.

The Prov­i­dence Jour­nal re­ported the House ver­sion would also le­gal­ize the prac­tice, while al­low­ing the Gen­eral Assem­bly to ap­prove any deal the gover­nor works out with the Twin River casino and the com­pany that man­ages the bets.

MED­I­CAL MAR­I­JUANA

The gover­nor hoped to open up a new rev­enue stream and ex­pand ac­cess to med­i­cal mar­i­juana in the state by in­creas­ing the amount of li­censes from 3 to 15 and let­ting card-hold­ers from Mas­sachusetts and Con­necti­cut use the state’s dis­pen­saries.

The House plan only in­cludes the part of that plan that al­lows out-of-state card­hold­ers to use the state’s dis­pen­saries.

SCHOOL CON­STRUC­TION

Rai­mondo has called for a “once-in-a-gen­er­a­tion” in­vest­ment in the state’s crum­bling school sys­tem. Her $1 bil­lion plan be­gins with ask­ing vot­ers in Novem­ber to au­tho­rize $250 mil­lion in bonds for the first phase of fi­nanc­ing.

The House plan also con­tains that re­quest, though WPRI-TV re­ports it in­cludes “more strin­gent” lan­guage about com­mu­ni­ties ob­tain­ing fund­ing.

DEFICIT

Law­mak­ers had more free­dom in June than in Jan­uary. When Rai­mondo re­leased her bud­get pro­posal, the state was look­ing at a $60 mil­lion deficit. But rev­enues ex­ceeded ex­pec­ta­tions and the state ended up with tens of mil­lions of dol­lars in sur­plus.

The Prov­i­dence Jour­nal re­ported Mat­tiello said the new plan uses that money to sup­port hu­man ser­vices, in­clud­ing the restora­tion of $18 mil­lion in ser­vices for peo­ple with de­vel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ties.

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