Raimondo defends budget despite projected deficit

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island’s new $8.9 billion budget has officially been signed into law.

Lawmakers joined Governor Gina Raimondo at a signing ceremony at the State House Friday.

According to state leaders, the spending plan is crucial to moving the state’s economy forward.

“It is an expression of our priorities,” Raimondo said. “We are putting Rhode Island on a firmer fiscal footing for decades to come, tackling our biggest issues and investing as much as we can in our future.”

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello and Senate President Teresa Paiva-Weed offered their praises to the budget. Newly-minted House Finance Chair Marvin Abney, who took on the role in the wake of Rep. Raymond Gallison’s abrupt resignation, spoke highly of the plan, too.

“It begins to make it possible for us to create an atmosphere where people will be coming to us,” he said. “It’s not going to be easy, but we’re going to do it.”

State leaders say the budget will pave the way for a brighter future, but according to documents obtained by Eyewitness News, the projected deficit for the upcoming fiscal year is close to $200 million – a number that nearly doubles by fiscal year 2021.

“We do still have a defIcit. We are not out of the woods,” Raimondo said. “The economy – we’re not out of the woods. The deficit – we’re not out of the woods. But it is much better than it was two years ago. We’re taking the right steps and we’re headed in the right direction.”

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