Ruggerio: ‘We can both live with’ new budget compromise

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Senate President Dominick Ruggerio said Tuesday the new state budget compromise will work for both the Senate and the House, as he prepares to bring his members back for a vote.

The budget impasse, which has now lasted 32 days, could be coming to an end after the Senate agreed to approve the original budget bill at the State House this Thursday. The public dispute between Ruggerio and House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello has largely stemmed from Mattiello’s plan to eliminate the state’s car tax.

“We were always concerned about affordability and sustainability going forward,” Ruggerio, D-North Providence, said during an interview with Eyewitness News.

The tentative agreement centers on a new amendment that introduces a reporting process for the car tax phaseout. Starting in year three of the six-year plan, the director of the R.I. Department of Revenue will determine if the plan is financially sustainable moving forward.

Ruggerio said those reports will “basically give us an idea as to how the revenues are falling in place as it relates to the car tax proposal.”

“I think this is a compromise we can both live with,” he said.

The Senate is set to reconvene Thursday, and senators are expected to remove an amendment they added to the House-passed budget a month ago relating to the car tax. They are also expected to separately approve the compromise measure requiring the reports on the phaseout.

Once the Senate approves the budget it will go to Gov. Gina Raimondo, who said she will sign it “immediately.”

Both the House and Senate are scheduled to return to the State House on Sept. 19 to take up other bills that were left in limbo after the June 30 blowup over the budget. The House is also expected to approve the car-tax reports requirement that day.