It’s certainly fashionable to blame retirees and their generous post-employment benefits for Providence’s fiscal problems. But for other causal factors, look to the state of Rhode Island and former Governor Don Carcieri.
Tom Sgouros, in his ongoing series dissecting the state budget, reports this morning that in 2008 the capital city was expecting $65 million in state aid from the General Assembly. But over the next two budget cycles Carcieri cut so much from aid to cities and towns that he effectively striped Providence of 10 percent of its annual operating capital.
Libby Kimzey, a frequent contributor to RI Future who is running for a seat in the State House to represent Federal Hill and Olneyville, put it pretty bluntly a few weeks back when giving a presentation about state budget cuts to Providence:
“Right now the State of Rhode Island is being a jerk to Providence,” she said, noting that the state cut some $28 million to the capital city over the past three years. Interestingly, that’s more than the city would need to be back in the black financially. “If you think about it, that is really in the same ballpark as that $22.5 million that is in the papers right now.”
“That is money that the city was counting on from the state,” she said. “Those are decision that state lawmakers have made that put the city in the position of closing schools and we’re having this whole conversation about cutting retirees benefits and it just gets me really worked up.”