Rhode Island State House

Senator Louis DiPalma (D-Dist. 12, Middletown, Little Compton, Newport, Tiverton) has introduced a bill (2018-S 2253) that would create a special legislative commission to study the possibility of transitioning Rhode Island to a biennial budget.  House Committee on Finance Chairman Marvin Abney (D-Dist. 73, Newport, Middletown) has introduced the companion legislation (2018-H 7801) in the House of Representatives.

“As each year of the budgeting process proves to be a difficult exercise, it is imperative that we explore other possibilities in how we budget our state government.  This commission will study what has worked, and what hasn’t worked, in other states and then will make a recommendation if biennial budgeting is the right fit for Rhode Island,” said Senator DiPalma in a prepared statement.

Biennial budgeting is the preparation and adoption of budgets for two-year periods.  This method of budgeting is used by 19 other states, including Connecticut.  Rhode Island currently adopts the state budget annually.

“Crafting a budget for Rhode Island is never an easy task so it is important that we study the best practices of other states in how they craft their own budgets and looking into biennial budgeting will be part of that process.  Rhode Islanders deserve the best budget possible and if that means transitioning to biennial budgeting we must have the data to support that decision,” said Chairman Abney in a prepared statement.

The commission would consist of four members of the House of Representatives and four members of the Senate.  Both Chairmen of the House and Senate Finance Committees would serve as co-chairs of the commission.  Other members of the commission would include the Director of the Rhode Island Office of Management and Budget, the Director of Rhode Island Department of Administration, the Director of the Budget Office, the President of the Rhode Island Foundation, and the Executive Director of Partnership for Rhode Island.

The commission would report their findings to the General Assembly no later than February 1, 2019, and the commission would expire on July 1, 2019.

Senator DiPalma’s bill has been heard before the Senate Committee on Special Legislation and Veterans Affairs.