Header, the Administration of the Honorable Lincoln C. Almond
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  2002 Signature
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I hereby transmit today, with my signature, the Fiscal Year 2000 Budget Act, House Bill 99-H 6167, Substitute A, As Amended, "An Act Making Appropriations for the Support of the State for the Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 2000".

On February 12, 1999,1 submitted my FY 2000 budget recommendations to the General Assembly based upon the November 1998 revenue estimates and expenditure requirements known at that time. At the most recent revenue estimating conference, in May of this year, some $36 million in additional revenues were identified for the FY 2000 budget plan.

I am pleased that the core elements of my budget plan have been adopted by the General Assembly, and that a large portion of the additional resources identified in May have been allocated to local education aid, which is a high priority of my Administration.

The Budget, as enacted, represents another positive step in our collective efforts to invest prudently in those areas to build a better future for Rhode Island.

This Budget makes strong investments in our youngest children- The Assembly has adopted the second year of my Starting Right program, which consists of a $7 million increase to expand childcare assistance for working families. The Assembly has enacted most of the elements of my Lead Free Rhode Island initiative, which aggressively steps up our efforts to combat childhood lead poisoning.

The Budget makes a very strong commitment to education. State operating aid to local schools is increased by $38 million, or nearly eight percent. When the State's contribution to retirement for teachers and construction aid is added, the increase in state assistance to schools is more than $46 million. I am pleased that the Assembly has adopted my Reading Initiative, which has the goal of all fourth graders reading at grade level. The Budget also continues strong investments in the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to enable the Department to pursue school improvement built on assessments and accountability.

This supplemental budget increases state spending over the Enacted FY 1999 Budget by $37 million in general revenue funds, or $4.9 million more than I had proposed in by January submission. All funds are increasing $101.8 million over the enacted amount, or $12.5 million over my January recommendations. The projected ending surplus as contained in this bill is $70.8 million, or $5.5 million less than the projected surplus contained in my January submission.

I look forward in the coming weeks to work with the General Assembly in finalizing the Appropriations Act for the FY 2000 fiscal year, which commences on July 1, 1999.


Lincoln Almond