Finance panel takes up bill that would nix 38 Studios payment

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A bill that would prevent Rhode Island from making this year’s payment on the moral obligation bonds related to 38 Studios was taken up by the House Finance Committee Tuesday evening.

The budget approved by the House Finance Committee last week included the $12.3 million payment to pay back a portion of the bonds sold as part of the failed deal. The payment has long been a controversial issue, on which a recent WPRI 12 / Providence Journal poll showed the state is just about evenly split.

It was also, according to Rep. Karen MacBeth, one of the primary reasons the finance panel debated the budget proposal late into Thursday night before unveiling its budget proposal. MacBeth and Rep. Patricia Morgan represented the pair of nay votes in a 14-2 approval.

“I stay strong on the position and don’t waver,” she said, “There is no evidence that the bonds do need to be paid, each representative has a decision to weigh the evidence and make a decision for the constituents.”

MacBeth, who also chairs the House Oversight Committee, is now re-introducing legislation that would prevent the Commerce Corp. – previously the Economic Development Corporation – and the state from making any payments related to the 38 Studios bonds.

The bill’s other sponsors include Reps. Patrick O’Neill, James McLaughlin, Spencer Dickinson and Michael Chippendale.

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