Progressive Democrats Call for Mattiello to “Get Back to Work”
Thursday, July 13, 2017
GoLocalProv Political Team
|Speaker Nicholas Mattiello|
"Speaker Nicholas Mattiello is drawing a lot of attention to himself, and he is not handling it well. Instead of taking responsibility for shutting down the House before a budget was passed, he is responding to criticism by finger pointing, complaining, and trying to shift the spotlight and the blame onto anyone but himself," said the group in a statement released on Wednesday.
In previous weeks, the group has entered into a blistering series of attacks with Mattiello and Democratic Party senior advisor Bill Lynch. He is the former chair of the RI Democratic Party and ran for both Mayor of Pawtucket and Congress in the past. Lynch is being paid $4,000 a month by the party.
"Speaker Mattiello's decision to close the House is solely his, yet he argues that Senate President Dominick Ruggerio’s budget amendment breached a contract between the two—a handshake which is still unconfirmed. Perhaps, Mattiello should review the Rhode Island Constitution, the Rhode Island General Laws, and the rules by which the legislature functions, and show us where handshakes are discussed. Our reading of the law suggests that the Senate has a right and a duty to review and amend the budget where it deems necessary or appropriate for the public interest. Is Mattiello suggesting that only the President and Senate Finance committee have the right to amend the budget, rather than individual senators?" said the Progressives. The statement was issued by Capri Catanzaro.
"Mattiello repeatedly insists that it is accepted practice for Rhode Island legislators to make deals behind closed doors rather than in full public view, but it will not get him off the hook. People with integrity do not make excuses, and our Speaker must recognize that the broken assurances of one or two state senators do not relieve him of the duties of his office and his responsibilities to the state. But as his recent actions clearly demonstrate, Mattiello is not an honorable man. Rather than doing his job, he ordered everyone home so he could avoid negotiations with the Senate, and the possibility of losing them. Now, instead of putting aside his personal qualms and working toward a solution, he rejects any and all attempts at compromise and insists that the issue is closed."
The group again called for Mattiello to step down as Speaker of the House,"RIPDA knows that Speaker Mattiello will never resign, but we repeat our call for him to do so nonetheless. He deserves to be held accountable for his actions, just like everyone else, and the logical consequence of his gross negligence is his removal from his position of authority. We hope that the House will reconvene shortly to conclude the state's business, and we hope that members of the House will soon choose a more principled Speaker to lead them."
The state's community college is poised to be the sole beneficiary of the Governor's Promise scholarship program.
It would make Rhode Island the fourth state to have tuition-free community college, allowing every resident the opportunity to earn an associate's degree tuition free. There is no means testing for the program and few standards.
The cost would be roughly $3 million in the FY18 (for the first cohort of students) and then $6 million the following year there are two classes.
As part of negotiations -- and the fiscal realities facing Rhode Island with a nearly $140 million shortfally, the Speaker announced Thursday that $25 million will be cut in general spending.
"It's something we discussed with the Governor and she thinks she can make [it] work," said Matteillo.
Also on the chopping block -- funding for the legislative office to the tune of $2 million.
Elderly and Disabled Bus Riders
After levying fares on some of the most needy RIPTA bus riders (the elderly and disabled) for the first time this past year, which resulted in strong public outcry, the House Finance budget contains just over $3 million -- for each of the next two years -- to refund the program this coming year.
Mattiello noted that after the two years is up, it is up to the Governor to find the funding.
On Thursday, Raimondo learned she is poised to get a piece (jCCRI) of her free college tuition proposal, which had been a major focal point of her budget proposal - and political strategy.
On the flip side, she is tasked with finding $25 million in government spending to cut, in order to balance the budget.
Unlike the May estimating conference, where Rhode Island revenues were found to be off nearly $100 million plus, the Governor can't say she didn't see this coming.
Medical Marijuana Expansion
In June, Raimondo called for an increase in medical marijuana dispensaries and an increase in licensing fees to generate $1.5 million in revenue for the state.
She called for "no less than six licensed compassion centers."
On Thursday, Mattiello said it was not in the budget, due the proposal's late timing.
Davies High School
The House finance budget contains additional help for manufacturing, including $3.6 million to upgrade facilities at Davies Career and Tech.
While Mattiello made scant mention of cuts in the briefing Thursday - save for the $25 million out of government spending -- the question was raised as to where the rest of the $140 million shortfall will come from.
"Millions in cuts came from the Commerce Corp budget. The budget kept the Rebuild RI funding, but money for several other Commerce programs were reduced," said Larry Berman, spokesman for Mattiello.
Mininum Wage Hike
Workers will be happy, employers might not.
The FY18 budget proposal calls for a $.50 minimum wage increase as of January 1, 2018, and then an additional $.40 the following year.
Business owners have continuously fought against such hikes.