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Happy Rhode Island budget day

Besides the plans that Governor Dan McKee outlined in his State of the State address, here’s what else to expect in his annual budget request today.

Look for RI Governor Dan McKee to propose legalizing and taxing the recreational use of marijuana for adults in his state budget request today.darren415 - stock.adobe.com

Happy Thursday! I’m Dan McGowan and I’m just counting down the hours until season four of “Ozark” drops. Follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan or send tips to Dan.McGowan@globe.com.

Coronavirus updates

Rhode Island has a high level of transmission: 2,684.1 total new cases per 100K population in the past 7 days

Vaccinated with two shots: 823,684 (of about 1.1 million residents)

New cases: 2,701 / Test-positive rate: 12.7 percent

Currently hospitalized: 547 / Total deaths: 3,215

More stats from the R.I. Department of Health

Globe Rhode Island COVID-19 news and resources

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BREAKING: House Speaker Joseph Shekarchi tells me he will not run for Congress this year. Expect the floodgates to open.

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Leading off

If Providence Restaurant Week can occur in multiple weeks throughout the year, then the governor’s budget day can easily become budget week.

We know from Governor Dan McKee’s State of the State address earlier this week that he’s putting forward substantive plans on housing, higher education, climate change, and, most importantly, cocktails-to-go, but on Thursday he’ll wrap all of his spending plans in a package with a nice little bow and deliver it to the General Assembly.

So what else should we expect from McKee’s proposed budget? Here’s an overview.

Legal cannabis: It has been a few years since former governor Gina Raimondo proposed legalizing and taxing the recreational use of marijuana for adults, and McKee is all but certain to be the governor who gets it done. The Senate approved a bill last year, but the House didn’t get on board. Leaders of the two chambers have been negotiating behind the scenes for months.

American Rescue Plan funds: Rhode Island was among the last states in the country to approve a partial spending plan for the $1.1 billion it received in federal American Rescue Plan funding last year, but there’s still close to $1 billion that needs to be allocated. During his State of the State, McKee said his budget will include a proposal for spending the rest of the money (think infrastructure).

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Taxes and fees: During most election years, governors and lawmakers are trying to plug budget holes without raising taxes. This year, there’s a large projected surplus, and McKee is already proposing to lower the corporate minimum tax from $400 to $375. It’s unclear if we’ll see other tweaks to taxes and fees, but both McKee and General Assembly leadership have signaled that there isn’t an appetite for raising taxes on the wealthy this year.

Bonds: Another common election year move to watch: What spending questions will go on the ballot for voters to decide? State Treasurer Seth Magaziner, who is challenging McKee in the Democratic primary for governor, has said he thinks the state should borrow another $300 million for school repairs. A school bond is likely, but we don’t yet know how much.

Municipal learning centers: We haven’t heard much about McKee’s idea to create municipal learning centers – think centralized after-school programming – in each city and town because of the ILO Group controversy, but this was one of his top priorities when he became governor last year. We’ll learn today if he’s still committed to it, or abandoning it.

The Globe in Rhode Island

⚓ On the latest edition of the Rhode Island Report podcast, Central Falls Mayor Maria Rivera discusses her first year in office. Read more.

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⚓ Former CVS executive Helena Buonanno Foulkes has amassed more than $1 million in campaign cash as she prepares to compete in the upcoming, hotly contested Democratic primary for governor. Read more.

⚓ Providence officials are gearing up for negotiations on payments in lieu of taxes with its large nonprofits (like the colleges and hospitals). Read more.

⚓ Governor McKee on Wednesday outlined proposals to use federal funding to build a new port, improve an old one, and improve Rhode Island’s energy efficiency programs as it braces for a climate-altered future. Read more.

⚓ Rhode Island COVID cases are still higher than they’ve ever been at any point before this winter, but they’re heading consistently downward, a potential but uncertain sign that the latest virus wave is finally ebbing. Read more.

Also in the Globe

⚓ Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who has gone after the Trump administration and big corporations in court, formally launched her campaign for governor on Thursday, immediately becoming the race’s presumptive frontrunner. Read more.

⚓ The Globe is reinventing the way we cover climate change. Read more.

⚓ The longer-term outlook for the Patriots isn’t exactly rosy. Read more.

What’s on tap today

E-mail events to us at RInews@globe.com.

⚓ Rhode Map readers, if you want a friend or family member to be recognized on Friday, send me an e-mail with their first and last name, and their age.

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⚓ Governor McKee’s proposed budget will be released at 4 p.m.

⚓ The special legislative commission that is studying health and human services programs meets at 2 p.m. Here’s the agenda.

⚓ The URI Board of Trustees kicks off two days of meetings today, and they’ll consider revoking honorary degrees for Michael Flynn and Rudy Giuliani tomorrow.

My previous column

With Congressman James Langevin set to retire from Congress, don’t be surprised if you start to hear his name being tied to the presidency of Rhode Island College. If you missed the column, you can read it here. And all of my columns are on our Rhode Island Commentary page.

Rhode Island Report podcast

Ed Fitzpatrick talks to Central Falls Mayor Maria Rivera about her first year in City Hall. Listen to all of our podcasts here.

Boston Globe App

You can get alerts about Rhode Island news on the Globe’s app (iOS and Android). Just tap the gear icon, then “Edit Alert Settings,” and choose Rhode Island.


Thanks for reading. Send comments and suggestions to Dan.McGowan@Globe.com, or follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan. See you tomorrow.

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Dan McGowan can be reached at dan.mcgowan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @danmcgowan.