Rhode Island Announces 12 “Official Shutdown Days” in Attempt to Save Money, Close Budget Gap

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

States are suffering budgets problems these days, including New Mexico which is now in the process of cutting expenses. Locally, our school district is cutting, too.

Well, the state of Rhode Island has gone one step further.  Press relese from the Office of the Governor:

Governor Carcieri Announces Plan to Achieve $67.8 Million in FY 2010 Budget Savings

Governor Announces 12 Shutdown Days, Operating Efficiencies, Reduction in Local Aid

Governor Donald L. Carcieri today announced his plan to achieve the $67.8 million in unspecified savings in the FY 2010 budget passed by the General Assembly. The plan calls for 12 shutdown days of state government, operational savings, and withholding the 4th quarter of the vehicle excise tax from cities and towns.

“Over the past several years, framed by two recessions, the state has faced difficult budgets, resulting in nearly one billion in lost revenue over the past two years,” said Governor Donald L. Carcieri. “We have managed through this crisis with reductions in state spending, improved operating efficiencies, and without raising broad-based taxes. We have achieved equally significant savings through changes to our healthcare plan, major pension reform, a massive reduction in state employment levels, changes to social service programs, and some cuts to local aid.”

“Even with these efforts, we are faced with more daunting challenges,” continued Carcieri. “The state’s FY 2010 Budget requires my Administration to find $68.7 million in unspecified savings. With most efficiencies already attained, and staffing reductions already made, there are few options left to cut costs.”

“My Administration has developed a plan to reach the $68 million total, through a combination of shutdown days, operating efficiencies and cuts, and a reduction in local aid by withholding the 4th quarter vehicle tax payment.”

Shutdown Days

The Administration has identified 12 days in which state government will be shut down. The following days are designated as official shutdown days:

Friday, 9/4/09 Friday, 10/9/09 Friday, 10/30/09 Friday, 11/27/09 Thursday, 12/24/09 Friday, 1/15/10 Monday, 2/15/10 Friday, 3/12/10 Friday, 4/2/10 Friday, 4/23/10 Friday, 5/28/10 Friday, 6/11/10

The anticipated general revenue savings achieved from each shutdown day is approximately $1.4 million, $17.3 million in total savings for all twelve. In addition, the Higher Education system will achieve $4.3 million in general revenue savings in a manner consistent with the delivery of student services over the school year. A state employee who stays home on all 12 shutdown days, will take home about 4.6 percent less.

This brings the total savings to $21.6 million. These savings assume the cooperation and participation of all branches of government. “We are very well aware of the impact shutdown days will have on state employees and state services. For Rhode Islanders there will be inconveniences; for state employees there is sacrifice. I am asking everyone’s patience, understanding, and awareness that these steps are unavoidable if the State is to live within its means,” continued Carcieri.

The State has met with union officials for the past several weeks in hopes of reaching a consensual agreement to achieve the savings through pay reduction days, similar to the one day pay reduction implemented last fiscal year, rather than shutdown days. Pay reduction days would achieve greater saving days and afford the Administration more flexibility, while providing employees with an additional personal day to be taken at a later date.

While the Administration will continue to negotiate with labor and remains hopeful that an agreement can be reached, each day that passes puts at risk the ability for the state to achieve the necessary savings. “I look forward to working with the various unions to address this situation in another way, but we simply cannot wait any longer to act,” said Carcieri.

Operational Savings

The Department of Administration (DOA) has identified approximately $17.1 million in savings from several areas, including $5.2 million from reducing consultant contracts by 10 percent, and limiting or eliminating seminars, conference and training for state employees.

DOA has identified an additional $8.9 million from a heightened level of scrutiny on all non essential expenditures, including out of state travel, fees and subscriptions, printing, advertising and other departmental expenses. In addition, DOA expects the state to gain $3 million in health insurance savings.

Authority to Withhold Appropriations

“Even with the shutdown days, and the operating efficiencies, we are still far short of the $68 million we need,” continued Carcieri. “I intend to submit legislation for immediate consideration when the General Assembly returns in September that will grant me the authority to withhold appropriations. In these extraordinary times, I need the flexibility to withhold appropriations to properly manage the execution of the budget.”

Previous Governors have had the statutory authority to withhold appropriations. This power was stripped by the General Assembly in 1996.

Of the state general funds – approximately $3.1 billion – one billion of these state funds goes to our cities and towns. This is on top of local property tax and other taxes collected by municipalities – nearly $2 billion. The Governor intends seek authority to withhold the 4th quarter motor vehicle tax payment to cities and towns. This amounts to approximately $32.5 million.

“We cannot continue to funnel money to the cities and towns without their participation in the state’s budget conversation,” said Carcieri.

“While this plan will achieve the $68 million in the FY 2010 budget, we are not out of the woods yet. Since May, we have seen revenues continue to deteriorate. By the first of September, we will close the books on FY 09, and at first blush, revenues are expected to be off by an estimated $65 million dollars in May and June. The significant savings we have realized by this plan are being outpaced by decreasing state revenues, revenues that rely on everyday economic activity,” continued Carcieri.

Online: http://www.governor.ri.gov

Release date: 08-24-2009

Many, MANY moons ago, the State of New Jersey shut down for a day or two, but not for 12 days.

Many, many, MANY moons ago my family would spend a couple of weeks on the yet undiscovered Block Island in a house of a friend who was restoring it room by room.  She called it “Turnabout Cottage” …Let’s hope we can see some “turning about” of all the mounting problems from our financial turmoil.

I don’t see it happening anytime soon, so who knows how many states will start shutting down. And let’s hope essential services to those who need them won’t be at the top of the list for further cutting. Here in New Mexico, witih a large population of poor,  healthcare for those on Medicaid has already taken a hit…

7 Responses

  1. In Ohio they cut funding to the libraries which has resulted in shorter hours, fewer days open and many layoffs. One local branch cut 12 employees while at the same time the township continues building a new, much larger library costing the taxpayers $13 million. That makes perfect sense doesn’t it? I wonder how they intend to staff it. The Three Stooges would make better planners.

    • A relative who teaches fifth grade in a local school has had to buy paper and pencils with her own funds when letters home to parents that such was needed were ignored. She was also informed by the administration that there was no money in the school budget to provide same for students who came unnprepared.

      She asked family members to buy needed school supplies for her students instead of gifts for her at her birthday celebration. This is a dedicated teacher who prefers to stand up an be counted instead of giving up as many other teachers in this school system have done.

      She feels the “No Child Left Behind” program should instead be entitled “All Children Left Behind”.

      • Now the even worse news…Obama is now pushing a largely Reublican approach to education (more charter schools and other crap), including merit pay…yeah, grade the teacher when they are trying to teach a mob of lazy kids! Monica Crowley LOVED the idea, of course, on McLauglin Group, but Pat Buchanan brought up the problem of pinning ALL the blame on the poor teacher who has a bad class and doesn’t “measure up” to the “standards” expected because of it!

        No blame, of course, on the parents or the kids….

        I think it’s a ploy to never give a teacher tenure anymore even if they’re good, to save money…

        The NEA is now getting thrown under the bus…

    • In Chicago, they have ordered 3 furlough days during which the libraries, senior centers, park districts, and other “non-essential” departments are closed. We just had one on August 17,

      What I’d like to know is how Chicago – “the city that works” – can find the 16 billion dollars for hosting the 2016 Olympics, but cannot keep senior centers and childcare centers and other “non-essential” programs and agencies open?

      Oh yes, Chicago has just recently CLOSED several mental health centers throughout the city due to lack of $$. I suppose these are also “non-essential” services (going to apparently non-essential citizens).

      I am so angry I could spit. (But I’d prolly be arrested and fined big bucks which will go to the Olympic committee.)

  2. Off topic but my tribute to Teddy Kennedy:

    Do it for Teddy

    • I followed the link to shhhit hits the fan and read the post and all the comments.

      We have been cautioned to not speak ill of the dead, but nowhere in my mind do I find that any reason to praise a person who has committed the wrongs that Ted Kennedy has done.

      His disloyalty and betrayel of Hillary Clinton finished any acts he might have done to redeem himself after his despicable behavior at Chappaquidic. He is in large responsible for the travesty we have in the White House now.

      Sorry folks, no sad songs from me.

  3. Me neither lee.

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