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Just 16 days into the new year, Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee went before the General Assembly to offer his third State of the State address and talk about his proposed $8.2-billion 2013-2014 budget.
Earlier in the day he released details of his budget package to the media and by the next day, his complete budget had been posted online.
During his Jan. 16 speech to members of the House and Senate, Chafee declared, "I submit this budget to the General Assembly on Jan. 16th – on time and the earliest that a governor has done so in over two decades."
State law requires governors to submit their budgets to the legislature by the third Thursday in January (or the first Thursday in February if it's their first year in office). Chafee beat that deadline by one day.
Submitting a budget early sounds like a good thing. At a briefing for reporters, Chafee’s director of administration, Richard Licht, said the early submittal reflected the discipline the governor has tried to bring to the whole budget process. And it will give the General Assembly more time to analyze it properly.
We wondered whether Chafee's claim that his budget is the earliest to be submitted in more than two decades was true.
We called his office to ask for their evidence.
Meanwhile, we turned to the always-helpful Thomas Evans, the state librarian.
Evans doesn't keep track of when a governor's budget is released, but he had data for when governors gave their State of the State/budget addresses and when their proposed budgets were submitted as legislation.
It turns out, there can be a big gap between the two. For example, in 1989, the second year on Evans' list, Gov. Edward DiPrete addressed the General Assembly on Jan. 4, yet his budget bill wasn't introduced until March 1.
In the previous 25 years, no governor has submitted a budget bill by the original deadline set by state law, according to Evans' data. (Extensions were written into the law for budgets submitted from 2005-2007 and for 2011 and 2012). Usually submission comes sometime in February. In eight years it was in March and in one year -- 1991 when Gov. Bruce Sundlun was dealing with the banking crisis -- it came April 9.
We confirmed Evans’ dates using The Journal's archives and found that details of the budget are usually released a day or two before the budget bill is introduced.
"The earliest the budget bill itself has been submitted in the last 25 years is Feb. 1," said Evans. That was in 2005 and 2007 (during the administration of Gov. Donald Carcieri) and 2012 (Chafee's second year).
Chafee's budget bill is on his website and Chafee spokeswoman Christine Hunsinger said it has been sent to the House.
However, it has not been officially introduced and referred to a committee for analysis.
Said Hunsinger: "We hope they will introduce it Tuesday,"
That would be Jan. 22, still ten days earlier than the previous record.
We rate Chafee's claim True.
(If you have a claim you’d like PolitiFact Rhode Island to check, e-mail us at [email protected] And follow us on Twitter: @politifactri.)
Budget.RI.gov, "FY 2014 Governor's Budget" and "An Act Making Appropriations For the Support Of the State For the Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 2014," both accessed Jan. 17, 2013
Governor.RI.gov, "Moving Rhode Island Forward," Jan. 16, 2013, accessed Jan. 17, 2013
Http://webserver.RILIN.state.RI.US/Statutes/, "Section 35-3-7 Submission of Budget to General Assembly – Contents," Rhode Island General Public Laws, accessed Jan. 17, 2013
Interview and e-mails, Thomas Evans, state librarian, Rhode Island State Library, Jan. 17, 2013
E-mail, Christine Hunsinger, spokeswoman, Gov. Lincoln Chafee, Jan. 17, 2013
Providence Journal archives
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