- Associated Press - Monday, July 31, 2017

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Rhode Island’s top Democratic legislative leaders say they’ve hammered out a budget deal.

Senate President Dominick Ruggerio and House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello released a statement Monday saying as part of the deal they plan to present legislation to their chambers that will address concerns related to the sustainability of the car tax phase-out, a key sticking point.

The legislation will mandate that the director of revenue file annual reports with the Senate and House and provide recommendations regarding the phase-out. The first report is due January, 2021.

The Senate also has agreed to reconvene on Thursday to pass the $9.2 billion state budget already passed by the House. The Senate will take up the stand-alone bill regarding the car tax phase-out.

Rhode Island has been operating without a budget since July 1.

Ruggerio said in the joint statement that he looked forward to finalizing the budget process.

“The concerns of the budget impasse expressed by city and town leaders have not been lost on me, but I needed to balance those concerns with the feasibility of the car tax phase-out, particularly in the out years,” he said.

Mattiello said he’s also pleased to end the budget impasse.

“The car tax phase-out remains in the budget and the relief Rhode Islanders desire from this punitive tax will be implemented as I promised,” Mattiello said in the written statement. “We also recognize the Senate’s concerns related to the car tax phase-out from a long-term perspective, and I think it makes sense for the Director of Revenue to commission an annual study on how this program and other programs are working in conjunction with projected revenue.”

Mattiello said the House of Representatives will be reconvening in September to pass the Senate’s car tax legislation.

Both chambers also have agreed to reconvene on Sept. 19 to take up other pieces of legislation that did not get addressed before the end of the session. The two leaders said details about which bills will be addressed in September are still being worked out.

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