PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Flanked by legislative leaders and other elected officials, Gov. Dan McKee signed the new $13.6 billion state budget on Monday.
The budget includes the elimination of the car tax for every city and town besides East Providence, which operates under a different fiscal calendar.
It also includes a one-time tax credit of $250 per child for up to three children, but only for eligible families. The credit is for dependents in tax year 2021 and the credit will be available for single tax filers who make less than $100,000 or joint filers who make less than $200,000.
Checks are expected to be sent out to families in the fall.
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Additionally, the state will cover the $8 cost for drivers to get Rhode Island’s new license plates when those are released.
There’s also an increase in the “circuit breaker” tax credit for elderly and disabled people from $400 to $600, while increasing the income limit for the program from $30,000 to $35,000.
The plan focuses on investing in health care with $190 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for future COVID response, $30 million for behavioral health care clinics in communities, and a $100 million investment in the unemployment trust fund to lower unemployment tax rates, which took a hit during the pandemic when so many people were out of work and the fund was affected by fraud.
In an effort to address the state’s housing crisis, $250 million in ARPA money will be put toward affordable housing and combating homelessness.
The University of Rhode Island will receive $132 million for its Narragansett campus, while $35 million will go toward the Rhode Island College Student Services Center. The Community College of Rhode Island will get $12 million for student spaces.
Other key investments include a year-long pilot program providing free service on the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority’s busiest route, and $168 million in upgrades to the problem-plagued Eleanor Slater Hospital.
The new fiscal year begins Friday.
Read the full breakdown of the budget here.
Outside the event, protestors gathered to call on McKee to hold off on signing the budget until the General Assembly passes the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act (EACA).
After McKee signed the budget, Emma Gauthier, a board member of The Womxn Project, said it is urgent the EACA is passed to protect more people seeking abortion care in the state.
“It’s really disappointing,” Gauthier said. “We were really hoping to see a lot more action on this issue.”