Budget Politics and Policy
If he [the governor] wants authorization for specific [spending] reasons, he should come to the legislature; the legislature will either give him that authorization or give him an explanation as to why not.
Antonio J. Pires, Chair, House Finance Committee, 1996
Follow the money.
Political strategist, 1998
We'll reconvene the House tomorrow for our veto-override party. House Majority Leader George Caroulo, during the 1996 budget negotiations
Exploring the politics of taxing and spending provides a perspective from which one can assess the enduring as well as emerging priorities and policy choices that face state leaders as Rhode Island moves into the twenty-first century. 1 A strong tradition of support for programs that protect the interests of poor and working-class constituencies continues to be evident in policy debates. Emerging priorities, however, reflect a need to hold the line on taxes, invest in programs linked to expanding the economy, and achieve higher levels of efficiency and accountability in state and local government.
Viewing the process through the lens of the annual machinations over the budget gives additional insight into the institutional and political rivalries that have developed over the past decade. It also brings into focus the institutional, political, and economic forces that set the parameters of the debate, allowing one to evaluate the role of the key players who ultimately determine fiscal policy in the Ocean State.
The state constitution charges the governor to “prepare and present to the general assembly an annual, consolidated operating and capital improvement