I’d like to share some thoughts on the Rhode Island budget as we begin winding down our legislative session that began five months ago. Every citizen is impacted by the state budget in some way. It helps fund public education, maintain our roads, keep us safe, provide for those most in need and protect our valuable natural resources.
As usual, my fellow representatives serving on the House Finance Committee have been reviewing the governor’s proposals as well as all aspects of the budget to ensure that these needs are met in a way that is responsible and sustainable for the taxpayers. Countless hours have been spent on hearings, meetings and the many other opportunities to learn how our budget choices may affect different people and businesses. We have also heard from our other House representatives on their ideas for the budget through legislation they have submitted.
There is no shortage of ideas on how government might help solve some of the problems facing our residents. However, there is a limit to how much we can ask of taxpayers, and I am committed to ensuring we produce a budget that values our taxpayers. We must properly fund and deliver essential government services. This is a simple, yet fundamental principle. You have the right to expect that of your government and hold us accountable to that.
Rhode Island taxpayers contribute greatly to the cost of public education, and we must make sure that investment is getting the results it should. The same goes for our long-standing commitment to take care of those who need it most. Those services are a lifeline to so many, and we must ensure we deliver quality service but pay only for what is needed.
We must make affordable choices when prioritizing our investments. This is essential to ensuring the health and economic stability of the state. I have been disappointed that more recent economic reports show Rhode Island losing its economic momentum and underperforming compared to other states. It was a steep climb out of the last recession, and we must position ourselves to withstand economic changes that may affect us.
We hear from people at the State House every day, from those who come to meet, testify and rally. But they are not the only ones we listen to. The voices of the many people who took the time to speak with me this summer and fall, when I asked them for their vote, are with me every day. I am confident my House colleagues share that sentiment. I want you to know that your concerns and hopes continue to guide our work, and I remain open to hearing from you.
Nicholas Mattiello, a Democrat representing District 15 in Cranston, is speaker of the Rhode Island House of Representatives.