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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Seeking tighter controls on the state budget

House Finance Committee Considers Treasurer Magaziner's Legislation to Strengthen Debt Management and Oversight

PROVIDENCE -- General Treasurer Seth Magaziner testified before the House of Representative's Finance Committee on behalf of legislation his office has introduced to strengthen the management and oversight of public debt at all levels of government.

"Systemic reform is needed to minimize the chance of a future public debt debacle. As General Treasurer, I am committed to working with the General Assembly to bring stronger debt management and oversight to Rhode Island," Magaziner said.

House Bills 7794 and 7796, along with Budget Article 2 and companion legislation, would create a new Division of Debt Management in the Treasurer's Office, responsible for managing direct State debt, studying quasi-public and municipal debt, and staffing the Public Finance Management Board. 

The legislation also strengthens reporting requirements for cities and towns, quasi-public agencies and other entities that issue public debt, and funds the creation of a public transparency web portal for all public debt in the state.

Companion bills are expected to be introduced in the Senate.

With more than $11 billion of bonded debt currently on the books, Rhode Island needs strong action to ensure all public borrowings are responsibly managed. More than 100 offi­ces, boards and utilities have the authority to issue public debt in Rhode Island, often with little or no State oversight.

Treasurer Magaziner has taken action to address Rhode Island's public debt challenges, by replacing the State's financial advisor and performing the first comprehensive study of State debt policy since the 1990s.