- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 6, 2003

PROVIDENCE, R.I., March 6 (UPI) — Rhode Island Gov. Don Carcieri has proposed a budget for fiscal 2004 that depends heavily on increased gambling revenues but no new broad-based taxes.

The total $5.63 billion spending plan as reported Thursday also hikes taxes on cigarettes to help fill a projected $174 million deficit.

"I want ours to be a state that is well run, business-friendly, job-growth oriented and honest," Carcieri said Wednesday night in his first budget address.

According to Thursday's Providence Journal, the governor called for a $2.768 billion state-financed budget for the coming fiscal year, an increase of 3.7 percent from fiscal 2003.

Including federal funds and other sources, the total budget was $5.63 billion.

The budget counts on $23.6 million in new revenues from 1,825 new slot machines at Newport Jai Alai and Lincoln Park racetrack and $48.1 more by increasing the state's share of video lottery terminal revenues at Newport and Lincoln.

Carcieri projected the changes would increase total lottery revenues from $237 million in 2003 to $342.3 in 2004. While lottery revenues accounted for 7 percent of the state's share of the budget three years ago, Carcieri's proposal would increase that to 12.2 percent.

The governor's spending plan also hits cigarette smokers, who could be paying an average of $5.11 a pack. Carcieri wants to hike the cigarette tax from $1.32 now to $1.61 in July, generating almost $118 million next year, compared to $101.8 million in 2003.

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