As 2021 comes to a close, RIPEC provides a look ahead at the state’s fiscal picture and an update on the outlook for spending federal funds.
RIPEC on Public Policy
- At the November Revenue Estimating Conference, state budget leaders projected that Rhode Island will collect $273.6 million more in revenue in the current fiscal year than was assumed for in the budget approved in June, but RIPEC President and CEO Michael DiBiase warned that “the outlook for state revenues for next year is not that bullish.” He further explained that “the challenge for the Assembly and the governor is that there is abundant one-time money, but most of the spending demands are for continuing program expansion.”
- Michael DiBiase testified before the State Senate Finance Committee to discuss recommendations from the Rhode Island Foundation’s Make It Happen: Investing in Rhode Island’s Future initiative regarding state spending of $1.1 billion in flexible American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. RIPEC partnered with the Economic Progress Institute to support the initiative and present the final report to committee members.
- The Policy Lab, “30,000 Leagues Podcast: How Should Rhode Island spend $1.1 Billion?”
- Responding to concerns about worker shortages and uneven job growth in certain industries, Michael DiBiase told WJAR 10 that the state’s labor market may be undergoing a permanent shift. New data show that Rhode Island’s unemployment rate remained above that of the United States in October, continuing a trend discussed in the Q3 edition of RIPEC’s Key Performance Indicators Quarterly Briefing, published in partnership with Bryant University’s Center for Global and Regional Economic Studies.
- After months of heated debate in Washington, the House of Representatives passed a $1.1 trillion infrastructure bill in November, sending the legislation to President Joe Biden for signature. According to estimates, Rhode Island could receive up to $2.5 billion over five years from the bill, including funding to expedite existing projects for highways, mass transit, and broadband.
- According to a new Reason Foundation analysis, Rhode Island’s highway system fell from 46th in the U.S. to 49th in terms of overall cost-effectiveness and condition. The report shows that despite spending the fifth most per mile of highway among all states, Rhode Island ranks in the bottom ten in eight metrics, including percentage of structurally deficient bridges, pavement condition, and traffic congestion.
What to Look for in December
- According to Rhode Island Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ryan Pearson, the Senate will consider returning to the State House in December to vote on spending a portion of the state’s flexible ARPA funds.
- Michael DiBiase will give keynote remarks on Rhode Island’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the outlook for spending federal funds at the Greater Newport Chamber of Commerce’s quarterly Economic Update Luncheon on December 14.