Rhode Island’s capital city will be in bankruptcy by June if it doesn’t get help resolving its financial crisis.
That was the dire warning from Providence Mayor Angel Taveras during a Thursday morning news conference at City Hall. With five months left before the end of the fiscal year and the capital set to run out of cash by the start of summer, the city still faces a $22.5 million deficit in its budget for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30.
The budget shortfall was projected at $110 million last March, when Taveras declared a “category five” financial emergency in Providence. It was reduced after he negotiated new contracts with unions, laid off workers, cut spending and won increased state aid.
Taveras, a Democrat who took office 13 months ago, told reporters Providence could be pushed to the breaking point without sacrifices from retirees and the city’s large tax-exempt institutions, including Brown University and the hospitals.
“Our firefighters, police officers, teachers and taxpayers have all sacrificed in the last year and helped Providence avoid catastrophe,” the mayor said. “However, not everyone has sacrificed. The failure of our tax-exempts to sacrifice has left a $7.1 million hole in our budget.”
It’s interesting how many Democratic politicians are having to preside over similar situations.
And it’s definitely interesting to see how they’re shaking down various groups, as well as beating up groups that tend to support them (fancy that—the Koch Brothers aren’t everywhere to point fingers at). So, for example, Taveras tried getting some money out of Brown University:
Taveras and Simmons have been at loggerheads since December, when negotiations over Brown’s voluntary payments to the city broke down after the university’s board rejected the mayor’s request for $4 million in additional annual payments and he spurned their counteroffer of $2 million.
“Brown supports Providence, and we have offered to do more during this particularly challenging time,” Quinn said, noting the city’s four private schools already plan to pay $50 million over 20 years. “We regret that the mayor rejected this offer, and hope we can continue our discussions and reach an equitable, sustainable solution.”
Mind you, the university doesn’t have to give the city this money . . . this is a donation, essentially. Yes, it’s in the interest of the university that the city doesn’t crumble around it—so, sure: appeal to their self-interest. But bitching that Providence is getting only a $2 million donation from that very liberal institution is a bit odd.
Taveras is also trying to shake down the hospitals.
This is going to get very ugly (well, it already is, but I imagine it will get uglier.)