PROVIDENCE— Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts issued the following statement today regarding last night's approval by the House Finance Committee of the FY 2009 budget.
"Tough budget times require very tough decisions, and I commend the House Finance Committee for their hard work and dedication in crafting the FY 2009 budget. I'm pleased to see that creative solutions were developed to restore as many people as possible to RIte Care. Similarly, as chair of the Small Business Advocacy Council, I believe that the committee made the right decision in not raising taxes and continuing to work toward a competitive business environment. This budget is a step toward charting a new course for Rhode Island, a course that can lead our state out of a recession and perennial budget deficits, while we continue working to protect the basic needs of Rhode Islanders.
"Over the coming months, transforming government is going to be key to moving our state out of recession and keeping us from facing staggering budget deficits in the future. Work has begun to ensure that substantive changes can be made in next year's budget, including the tax study, pension study and Medicaid reform effort that are currently underway. Now we must work together – cities and towns, school districts, all branches of state government and Rhode Islanders as a whole – to transform our government, capture all of the best ideas about how to run our state, question the ways we have previously done things and set in motion fundamental changes that will allow our state to realize its full potential.
"Decisions that are made as part of this budget will define our state’s ability to climb out of recession and restore prosperity to Rhode Island. Given the magnitude of our budget deficit, cuts were necessary. However, cuts made to college scholarships for Rhode Island students may bring us farther away from developing a thriving economic base in Rhode Island. Additionally, cuts to our higher education system itself threaten an important tool for job growth in our state. We must prioritize those expenditures that will pay off in the long run with more high-paying jobs and a thriving economic climate.”