April 24 Letter

With the conclusion of April school vacation, the General Assembly will enter the “home stretch,” completing its final review of legislation and passing a budget sometime in June. This week’s letter will discuss an upcoming hearing on the school takeover bill and information about future obligations flowing from some of the Governor’s proposed “one-time” expenditures.

1.     Committee Hearing On School Takeover Bill

This Wednesday (April 27) the Senate Education Committee will conduct a hearing at which they will consider a series of bills, including S-2838, which is designed to reform future State takeovers of individual schools and school districts, and reform the current State takeover of the Providence Public Schools. You can read a 1-page summary of the bill by clicking here. The meeting will begin at 4:30 p.m. in the Senate Lounge, as described in the Committee Agenda. The public is invited to comment on the bill either by speaking at the hearing or by sending written testimony to the Clerk at SLegislation@rilegislature.gov. You can watch the hearing on Capitol TV by clicking on this link: https://www.rilegislature.gov/CapTV/Pages/default.aspx. I encourage you to get involved in any of these ways, whether you support or oppose the bill. If you have any questions about the bill I can answer, please send me an email at sam@samzurier.com

2.     Tracking Long-Term Taxpayer Obligations From The Expenditure Of “One-Time” Federal Funds

In my March 20 letter, I described how some of the “one-time” expenditures proposed in the Governor’s budget for American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds (which are available only for four years) could create State taxpayer-funded long term commitments, despite the Governor’s stated intention of ensuring that those proposals “do not lead to outyear budget obligations” following the exhaustion of the federal funds. At that time, I asked the Office of Management and Budget to review the Governor’s entire ARPA budget proposal to identify those programs which created future funding obligations. Last week, that office presented the Senate Finance Committee with this Compilation of which programs create potential out-year budgetary obligations. You will see that there is an “Ongoing Obligations” column in which certain programs are marked “Yes” or “Yes/Discretionary.” While these programs may merit a commitment of federal ARPA funds over the next four years, the Finance Committee will have to decide whether these programs bring sufficient value to justify these future commitments for State tax dollars above and beyond the federal funds that can support them in the near term.

3.     Requesting Your Support

I have scheduled a fund raising reception to take place on Wednesday, May 4, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at the India Restaurant at 1060 Hope Street.  

Last year’s campaign, in which the candidates combined to spend more than $210,000, was (to my knowledge) the most expensive State Senate campaign in our District’s history, and probably one of the most expensive in our State’s history. Thanks to your generosity in the past two weeks, I have retired the debt from last year’s campaign, and I am so grateful for all of you who helped to bring that about. With that said, I now need to raise funds for this year’s campaign. If you who have not yet contributed, please consider providing your support at this time. You can help by purchasing a ticket to the reception by clicking here, or by making a contribution in any amount you wish by clicking here.

Thank you.