RI tax revenue on the upswing once again

Mattiello pledges to use additional money to start eliminating the car tax

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Gov. Gina Raimondo will have more money to spend than expected when she puts forward her next state budget proposal in January.

The number-crunchers who took part in the state’s semiannual Revenue Estimating Conference announced this week that they expect state revenue to be $45 million higher in the current 2016-17 budget year than they projected in May, the last time they met. Their estimates for income, insurance and estate tax revenue all rose, while their estimates for sales tax and lottery revenue declined.

On top of that, the experts said they expect state revenue to rise by a further $61 million in the 2017-18 budget year, to total nearly $3.8 billion.

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said Thursday night he was pleased by the revenue news, suggesting it will help him fulfill his campaign promise to begin a phased-out elimination of the municipal car tax.

“We do have an increasing economy, and every year our revenues have been going up a little bit, and we’re going to prioritize them for our citizens’ needs – and that’s the car tax,” Mattiello said, adding: “We’re heading in the right direction. There’s a lot of positive momentum, and I’m getting good reports relative to our revenues.”

“One of the reasons that I’m really pleased to be re-elected is, we’re going to get the benefit of the work, the foundation, that we’ve already laid,” he continued. “Our revenues are coming up, and we’re going to be able to do great things, and we’re going to make sure we do good things for our citizens – and the car tax is one of the biggest great things we’re going to do for our citizens.”

The governor and lawmakers are required to use the Revenue Estimating Conference’s forecasts when they put together the annual state budget. The November estimates are used to create the governor’s initial proposal, expected in January, and then those numbers are updated in May so lawmakers can use the revised figures to finish their final version of the plan.

The state’s 12-month budget year runs from July 1 to June 30.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He writes The Saturday Morning Post and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram