Governor McKee Signs FY25 Team Rhode Island Budget

 

Budget Makes Key Investments in Education, Economy, Housing, Health 

 
 

PROVIDENCE, RI — Governor Dan McKee today signed the FY25 Team Rhode Island budget, which provides crucial funding for K-12 education and out-of-school learning, includes the largest housing bond in state history and increased support for small businesses, local road improvements and retirees. The Governor was joined at the signing by Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi, House Finance Committee Chairman Marvin L. Abney and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Louis DiPalma. 

 

“We came together as a team and delivered a budget that continues to put Rhode Island on a path to improve educational outcomes, raise incomes for all Rhode Islanders, and build a healthier state,” said Governor McKee. “I am proud to sign a budget that makes smart investments in Rhode Island’s future and I thank the Speaker and Senate President for their collaboration.”

 

“Through this budget, we are emphasizing education at every level and supporting children. This budget is the result of a truly collaborative process between my colleagues in the House, the dedicated members of the House Finance Committee, our partners in the Senate and Governor McKee and his team to carefully create a plan that meets Rhode Island’s needs for education, students and children first, while addressing our challenges, such as housing and health care,” said Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick).

 

“This is a responsible budget resulting from a truly collaborative process among the Senate, House and the Governor’s office. In addition to our partners in the House and the Governor’s office, I particularly want to thank Senate Finance Committee Chairman Lou DiPalma, and all the members of the Finance Committee, who spent countless hours reviewing all aspects of the budget over the past several months, as well as all of my colleagues in the Senate for their input. I am pleased that the budget will invest in many Senate priorities, particularly in the areas of health care, child care, education and providing some needed relief to retirees,” said President of the Senate Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence).

 

“The budget reflects the fact that while the influx of federal pandemic funding has come to an end, Rhode Island is still on sound financial footing and we have continued to best position Rhode Island for future economic possibilities. This budget takes care of and supports our residents, families and children without putting any additional financial burdens on the people of Rhode Island, many of whom are struggling due to the higher costs of daily life we are now seeing. Tough, but responsible and fair, choices were made, and I firmly believe this budget will further the progress Rhode Island has made over the past few years,” said House Finance Committee Chairman Marvin L. Abney (D-Dist. 73, Newport, Middletown).

“This budget is responsible and forward thinking, and it is based on facts and data without putting undue burdens upon the taxpayers. It meets the needs of today with an eye on Rhode Island’s future by heavily investing in education and health care. The budget corrects long-standing issues with provider reimbursement rates, which in turn, will not only support our population’s well-being and health, but it will also help uplift the dedicated workers who care for us all. It also addresses our retirees who have been struggling for many years and I am proud of this legislation that will serve all of Rhode Island’s residents well,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Louis P. DiPalma (D-Dist. 12, Middletown, Little Compton, Newport, Tiverton).

 

Key elements of the FY25 budget include:

 

Investing in Housing, Creating Pathways to Homeownership

 

Increasing the Housing Supply: Asks voters to approve a $120 million housing bond to make housing more affordable and accessible to Rhode Islanders. The bond would provide $80 million for affordable housing, $20 million for homeownership programs, $10 million for acquisition and revitalization, $5 million for site acquisition, $4 million for housing-related infrastructure, and $1 million for municipal planning. The largest housing bond in Rhode Island’s history, this effort builds on the Governor’s $250 million investment in housing across FY 2022 and FY 2023.

 

Bolstering Resources for Individuals Experiencing Homelessness: Adds $17.3 million to provide housing navigation, stabilization, and mental health services for people experiencing homelessness. The additional funding brings the total State Fiscal Recovery Fund support for the homelessness assistance programs to $38.8 million.

 

Expanding Uses for the Housing Production and Stabilization Fund: Adds housing stabilization, housing problem solving, housing subsidies, and homelessness prevention to the list of allowable uses under the Housing Production and Stabilization Fund. Additionally, the budget provides $10 million in general revenue from FY 2024 to recapitalize the account and increases spending by $5 million in FY 2025.

 

Supporting the Statewide Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) Program: Provides $4 million to incentivize developers to expand subsidized housing options for low-income households. The program, which was created in the FY 2024 budget, awards tax benefits to developers through a competitive process.

 

Building a Healthier Rhode Island

 

Raising Medicaid Provider Rates: Invests $163.9 million from all funding sources to fully fund the recommended rates from the Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner’s review, including $3.8 million in state and federal funds combined for Early Intervention providers who promote the development of infants and toddlers who have a developmental disability or delay.

 

Launching a New Delivery Approach to Behavioral Health Services: Provides $79.7 million from all funding sources to establish new Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) rates. CCBHCs provide a comprehensive array of mental health and substance use services – coordinating with other health providers (primary care doctors, hospitals) to improve outcomes and reduce the use of emergency departments.

 

Supporting Nursing Homes: Directs $10 million in State Fiscal Recovery Funds – in addition to $30 million provided in FY 2023 – to nursing homes to bridge a gap until October 2024 when new nursing home rates take effect. This investment supports a sector that has faced staffing and operational challenges.

 

Making Healthy Foods Available to Students Year-Round: Invests $400,000 to launch a permanent Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer program that will provide families $40 per month, per eligible child during the summer. The program will increase food security when school is out of session and children may not have access to affordable, nutritious meals.

 

Discouraging Smoking and Vaping: Invests an additional $350,000 for a vaping abatement initiative for students, increases the per-pack tax on cigarettes by 25 cents, and implements a new tax on electronic nicotine delivery systems.

 

Strengthening Education from pre-K-12 to Higher Ed 

 

Increasing K-12 Funding: Increases state aid by $70.9 million; increases the additional percentage of per-student funding for multi-language learners from 15% to 20%; and provides an additional $5 million for a coaching initiative to improve reading and math achievement.

 

Offering Learn365RI Grants: Directs $5 million to support high-quality, out-of-school time programming, with an emphasis on critical skill development. The Learn365RI initiative prioritizes learning 365 days a year by building partnerships among municipalities, local education agencies, and community organizations.

 

Creating Additional Pre-K Classrooms: Increases pre-K funding from $22.9 million to $29.9 million to bring online 35 new classrooms totaling 700 seats for the 2024-2025 school year. These additional seats will bring Rhode Island’s total to approximately 3,000.

 

Expanding Free School Meal Eligibility: Includes $800,000 to transition approximately 6,500 students from being eligible for reduced-price breakfast and lunch to receiving both meals at no cost.

 

Investing in Higher Education Infrastructure:  Asks voters to approve a $160.5 million bond for two facilities: $87.5 million for a Biomedical Sciences Building at the University of Rhode Island Kingston Campus and $73 million to renovate Whipple Hall at Rhode Island College to become the home of the Institute for Cybersecurity and Emerging Technologies.

 

Extending the Hope Scholarship Pilot: Adds two years to the pilot program for the last-dollar scholarship that provides the last two years of a four-year degree at Rhode Island College at no cost to students.

 

Encouraging Higher Education for Foster Care Youth: Creates a last-dollar scholarship program for foster care youth exiting the Department of Children, Youth, and Families’ care to attend Rhode Island College. The program is funded with $1 million in State Fiscal Recovery Funds and will provide tuition, room and board, and/or support services, including during the summer.

 

Investing in our Economy and Supporting Local Businesses

 

Assisting Businesses Impacted by the Bridge Closure: Provides a total of $2.6 million State Fiscal Recovery Funds to support businesses most significantly impacted by the Washington Bridge reconstruction, including $1.2 million for the City of East Providence, $800,000 for the City of Providence, and $600,000 for the Executive Office of Commerce to support businesses in other local communities.

 

Strengthening Arts Infrastructure: Asks voters to approve a $10 million cultural economy bond that would provide funds for infrastructure advancing arts and culture comprised of $2 million for Trinity Repertory Company, $2 million for the construction of a facility for the Tomaquag Museum, $2 million for Newport Contemporary Ballet, and $4 million for the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts to distribute for infrastructure projects.

 

Attracting Visitors to the Ocean State: Provides a total of $2.6 million to market Rhode Island as a destination for travelers and provide a campaign to support airline routes to Rhode Island T.F. Green International Airport.

 

Giving a Boost to the Rhode Island Workforce: Directs $4.1 million to the Wavemaker Fellowship program to student loan repayment tax credits, of which $500,000 is dedicated for awards to primary care doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants.

 

Making It Easier to Do Business: Eliminates various nuisance fees – such as the liquor manufacturers duplicate fee and the sales-and-use tax exemption fee – that are a burden to residents and businesses paying them, as well as to the state agencies administering them.

 

Investing in our Environment

 

Providing a Green Economy Bond: Asks voters to approve a $53 million bond that includes allocations for municipal resiliency, brownfields remediation, climate resiliency, and infrastructure at the Port of Davisville to accommodate the offshore wind industry, among other initiatives.

 

Promoting E-Bike Usage: Provides $250,000 for the electric bike rebate program that incentivizes the purchase of zero-emission electric bicycles through rebates.

 

Supporting the Local Agriculture and Seafood Act Grant: Allocates $500,000 to continue the grant program that stimulates the growth and development of local food and seafood.

 

Fixing our Roads and Bridges, Investing in Transportation 

 

Replacing the Washington Bridge: Provides $83.6 million to serve as the state match for the reconstruction of a brand new Washington Bridge, including $35 million in State Fiscal Recovery Funds, $45 million in Rhode Island Capital Plan Funds, and $3.6 million from gas tax revenues.

 

Continuing the Municipal Road Program: Invests an additional $7 million in State Fiscal Recovery Funds for a matching grant program to help cities and towns make local road, bridge, and sidewalk improvements.

 

Supporting the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority: Provides $15 million in State Fiscal Recovery Funds to help defray an operating deficit. The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority will review operations, including ridership, to identify efficiencies.

 

Giving a Boost to Retirees

 

Raising Retirement Income Exemption: Increases the exemption for taxable retirement income from $20,000 to $50,000 for qualified single filers ($100,000 for joint filers) to keep more income in the pockets of older Rhode Islanders.

 

Assisting State Retirees: Repeals the suspension of full cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for state employees who retired before 2012. For those who retired after July 1, 2012, the threshold for the COLA to be reinstated is now when the pension fund is 75% funded – instead of 80% funded.

 
 
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