Chafee: Raimondo “Clueless” to Magnitude of Revenue Shortfall

Thursday, May 11, 2017
Kate Nagle, GoLocalProv News Editor

Former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee is calling Governor Gina Raimondo "clueless" for the most recent revenue estimating numbers announced Wednesday, which are close to $100 million off -- and pointed to his track record of surplusses while in office.

"The big shocker is that it is a surprise," said Chafee of the state's revenue collapse. "Richard Licht always bravely and accurately predicted early in the calendar year as we prepared our budget, what the May Revenue Estimating Conference numbers would be."

"Why did Governor Raimondo waste the Democratic Governors Association valuable money on TV ads for the free tuition proposal with this looming iceberg about to sink the budget? The Governor was clueless on the magnitude of the UHIP problems and unbelievably clueless about what was happening to the revenue and expenditure columns in her administration," said Chafee. "Again, shocking that she wasn't aware that there were problems."

Raimondo issued a statement on Wednesday said, “Across the nation, President Trump’s policies have created a lot of uncertainty for businesses and state fiscal officers. At least two-thirds of states, including our neighbors in Massachusetts and Connecticut, have seen revenues fall short of projections as individuals and businesses look to Washington for a signal of what’s to come. The General Assembly has some tough choices ahead of them, and Governor Raimondo’s ready to roll up her sleeves and work with them to pass a balanced budget that protects the progress we’ve made in recent years to strengthen our economy and invest in job training and workforce development.”

Also on Wednesday night, Speaker of the House Nick Mattiello issued a very tough statement pointed directly at the Raimondo administration:

“I can understand that certain economic projections have been revised to reflect lower growth, but it is frustrating to me that a lot of the budget problems are due to not achieving budget savings or revenue initiatives the Administration proposed last year.  State government must be managed better so that it works more cost effectively for the taxpayers.  My budget priorities have not changed.  We will continue our diligence and make sure we cover this gap.  We will look at everything.”

Pointing to Track Record

"The shock is that revenues are running $60.1M behind expectations for the current budget year," said Chafee. "Here are the surpluses from my years:

FY 2011 $64.2M
FY 2012 $115.2M
FY 2013 $104.1M
FY 2014 $68.0M

"We ran a tight fiscal ship!" added Chafee. 

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