Proposed suspension of gas tax is early casualty in RI budget debate

House lawmakers voted to tap Rhode Island’s billion-dollar federal COVID cash bonanza Thursday night and deliver election-year tax cuts, new social services spending and the construction of new homes in a $13.6-billion state budget for next year.

The final vote around 9 pm was 61-9 with all but one House Republican — Rep. Barbara Ann Fenton-Fung of Cranston — in opposition.

The tax cuts in the spending plan for the year starting July 1 include $250 checks for parents, the expedited elimination of the car tax and exemption of military pensions from income tax.

A proposal to suspend the gas tax in Rhode Island, amid $5-per-gallon prices, was defeated Thursday by lawmakers.

Minutes before the final vote, House Finance Committee Chairman Marvin Abney said that”for the first time” many people will feel like they got something from the budget.

But despite the “targeted tax relief” that House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi, Senate President Dominick Ruggerio and Gov. Dan McKee agreed to, Republicans objected to the tax bills that remained untrimmed while the state is projecting an unprecedented surplus.

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