Legislation grants the gift that keeps on giving
Cranston. It is the second largest city in Rhode Island, home to the State High School Soccer Championships, the Twin Oaks Restaurant, and the … DMV.
What the city no longer claims is the same weight of the State House it did a year ago when its native son Nicolas Mattiello was the speaker of the House.
This can be seen in the number of Cranstonians on the legislative payroll.
And this is now reflected in the amount of General Assembly grants paid to organizations in the city.
Mattiello enjoyed giving legislative grants to his hometown and was not keen on explaining the benefits he could offer to voters in his constituency.
A shipper of Mattiello’s final and ultimately unsuccessful re-election campaign last year described “the enormous influence” he had over legislative grants and other sources of money.
He wasn’t wrong.
In fiscal year 2019-20, Mattiello awarded 15 legislative grants, all but two to Cranston recipients, worth $ 51,799, the highest number of MPs. That number rises to $ 84,799 if you include the $ 33,000 that went to the Cranston West High School Alumni Association on behalf of the Cranston delegation he was a part of.
With all of this support from the summit, Cranston’s organizations secured $ 118,299 in grants from the house in the year ending June 30, 2020, just behind the $ 164,100 given to grantees at Providence, where Most of the state’s charitable institutions are located. The Warwick groups received $ 53,500 in grants from the House in fiscal year 2019-2020, Pawtucket $ 49,360, Central Falls $ 28,000 and Woonsocket $ 16,000.
And Senators, who share roughly half of the General Assembly’s $ 2.2 million annual budget, awarded about $ 49,000 to Cranston’s causes last year, less than half of what the city received from the House.
Fast forward to the fiscal year that ended last month and, with Mattiello out, Cranston received $ 48,000 in grants for the house, about 60% less than the City received a year earlier.
In each chamber, no grant check is cut without the respective agreement of the president or the president of the Senate, an important political advantage of the office if it wishes to use it.
But new grant list suggests a new president K. Joseph Shekarchi does not direct what was once Cranston’s money across the River Pawtuxet to his constituents in Warwick.
Shekarchi’s name does not appear as the sole sponsor of the previous year’s statutory grants. He shares the credit for two grants: $ 2,000 to Apponaug Girls Softball in Warwick, with representatives. David Bennett and Evan shanley; and $ 5,000 to Clothes to Kids RI Inc. of Providence with representatives. Nathan Biah, Brandon potter and Scott slater.
Another $ 21,000 was awarded on behalf of the “Warwick Delegation” of which Shekarchi is a member, including $ 10,000 to the Gaspee Days Committee, $ 4,000 to the Rhode Island Academic Decathlon, $ 4,000 to the Rhode Military Organization Island and $ 3,000 to Warwick Schools Volunteers.
“As long as the needs of Warwick’s nonprofits are met, it is not important to have my name on the checks,” Shekarchi wrote in an email explaining why he had not sponsored more grants. .
Of course, the GOP hasn’t challenged Shekarchi in his district of Warwick since being elected, while Mattiello has faced tough races every cycle and needed all the campaign help he could get. .
During last year’s campaign, Republican Rep. Barbara ann fenton-fung, who would go on to defeat Mattiello, vowed to keep paying Cranston money if she wins.
It has to the extent that any lawmaker in the first term of the minority party could possibly do it.
Fenton-Fung’s name appeared on three grants approved last year worth $ 12,500, all co-sponsored by other Cranston MPs. Charlene lima, Jacquelyn Baginski and Brandon potter. (Another $ 10,000 for improvements to the Knightsville Lookout appears to have been approved, but could be on the 2022 tax list that began this month.)
“I think Cranston is doing pretty well,” Fenton-Fung told Political Scene last week.
“Instead of each of us doing our individual work, we do it as a team,” she said of Cranston Representative Co-Sponsorship Grants.
Unlike Mattiello, who turned down some grant applications, Shekarchi approved all House grant applications once grantees returned the required documents, House spokesperson Larry berman noted.
Last year, Mattiello turned down a grant application from the GOP representative. Michael chippendale who allegedly provided bus service to seniors in Foster.
In the Senate, the majority of grants each year are sponsored by the “Senate leadership”. In 2020-2021, the Senate leadership sponsored $ 185,000 of total chamber grant spending, up from $ 92,000 the year before.
In addition, the President of the Senate Dominique ruggerio sponsored $ 62,000 in grants for himself and the Majority Leader Michael mccaffrey $ 17,000. The most individual grants to the Senate were awarded by Sen. Maryellen goodwin, D-Providence, which sponsored $ 70,500.
Adding the House and Senate together, Providence received by far the most grants last year, around $ 529,000.
With Mattiello’s grants declining, Warwick, with $ 147,500 in grants, surpassed Cranston’s $ 98,000 for second place. Pawtucket received $ 88,000 from both chambers and East Providence $ 66,500.
There are few rules on what qualifies for a statutory grant.
Little leagues, churches, senior citizens’ centers, police departments, garden clubs, yacht clubs and social clubs are all frequent beneficiaries.
A handful of lawmakers oppose and do not participate in what they see as a slush fund of lawmakers controlled by the rulers.
Head of House GOP Blake Filippi argues that the process is illegal and does not participate. As a result, Prudence Island got more House Grants ($ 1,000) than Block Island in the last session. (Block Island got $ 7,500 in grants through the Senate.)
The House and Senate work on many things in different ways, and grants are no exception.
The Senate gives out most of its grants each fall, carrying several forward from year to year, meaning new Senators do not have the option of sponsoring their own grants in the first six months after being elected. .
As a result, the Senate grant list for the past year lists the sponsors who did not seek re-election last November and none of the senators who replaced them.
Another difference: While the Senate awarded $ 1,149,800 in grants late last month, the House spent just $ 727,555 of its half of the $ 2.2 million prize pool.
Berman said the leadership transition delayed some of the grant making as well as the House’s work from the Veterans Memorial Auditorium for much of the year as new lawmakers acclimatized .
Possible derogation from the veto
It’s veto season on Smith Hill.
Last week, Gouv. Dan McKee vetoed its first two bills last week – a renewable energy utilities bill and a short-term rental registry bill – raising questions about whether the Assembly General will override these vetoes and any other that may soon arrive.
Waivers – which require a 3/5 vote of each chamber – were fairly common a decade ago, but have since become rare.
The last waiver took place in 2012, when the General Assembly annulled the then governor Lincoln chafee‘s veto of a Warwick Sewer Bill. The veto and waiver took place in the first half of June, before lawmakers dispersed for the summer.
The Assembly did not overrule a single Gov. veto. Gina Raimondo During his six-plus years in office, a sign that, despite feuds between their staffs, Raimondo and the legislative leaders mostly got along.
One of the reasons a waiver is more likely this year is that lawmakers aren’t campaigning this fall, but are expected to meet for a special session sometime after Labor Day.
The Airbnb bill in particular has good support in both chambers and could be a candidate to break the no-cancel streak.
On Twitter: @PatrickAnderso_