PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Gov. Dan McKee reassured Rhode Islanders Tuesday that Attorney General Peter Neronha’s conclusion that the two don’t have a working relationship couldn’t be further from the truth.
“We have a professional relationship that is strong,” McKee said. “The people need to know that there is a working relationship there.”
McKee’s interpretation of their working relationship is a stark contrast to Neronha’s, who believes there isn’t one.
“I don’t have a relationship with the governor,” Neronha explained in a recent interview on Newsmakers. “We don’t speak.”
When asked whether he considered it “a problem,” Neronha replied: “It’s not a problem for me if I have the resources to do my job.”
Neronha has repeatedly expressed frustration regarding the lack of funding for his office, which he said is understaffed, underfunded and “totally underwater.” He recently requested an additional $2 million for his office, but it was shot down by McKee in his latest budget proposal.
McKee reportedly denied Neronha’s request due to the uncertainty over a possible recession.
“He’s advocating for his budget as anybody would and I have no problem with that,” McKee said. “But I have to put the budget in and it needs to be balanced.”
“If we said to every department that they would get exactly what they asked for, the budget would explode and it would be too expensive for taxpayers,” he continued.
Neronha said he recently met with House Speaker Joseph Shekarchi and asked him to request the funding, as opposed to him asking again himself.
“If I don’t get those resources, I’m going to have to take action to hand off some of these caseloads down to where we can defend the state adequately,” he explained.
It’s unclear at this time whether Neronha’s request will make the cut. In a statement to 12 News, a spokesperson for Shekarchi said all decisions will be made in May when lawmakers see the state’s latest revenue projections.
Anita Baffoni and Tim White contributed to this report.