Rhode Island’s annual state budget is the most important piece of legislation proposed, debated, and enacted
each year. The budget is a statement of our values and priorities and has been called a moral document. As
residents of this state, we are obligated to understand whether the budget, in its many expenditures and
investments, elevates our identified values and priorities. Our long national and local history of racial and other disparities, including the persistent racial wealth gap, has made it critical for Rhode Island to consider whether the proposed budget addresses equity across gender, ethnic, racial, and other lines.
Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont included an equity evaluation of his proposed Fiscal Year 2024 and 2025
budgets put forward in February 2023, following legislation enacted in 2022. The detailed “Ensuring Equity
for All” appears directly after the budget’s introductory letter. Similar legislation has been proposed in Rhode
Island this session and, if enacted, future budgets proposed by the governor would be accompanied by an
The proposed Rhode Island legislation (Representative Terri Cortvriend’s HB6110 and Senator Jonathan
Acosta’s SB527), like the Connecticut legislation, mandates “an explanation of the manner in which provisions
of the budget further the Governor’s efforts to ensure equity in the state.” The explanation would consider
equity in terms of “efforts, regulations, policies, programs, standards, processes and any other functions of
government or principles of law and governance” seeking to do any of three things:
• “Identify and remedy past and present patterns of discrimination or inequality…and disparities in
• “Ensure that such patterns of discrimination, inequality and disparities in outcome, whether intentional or
unintentional, are neither reinforced nor perpetuated”
• “Prevent the emergence and persistence of foreseeable future patterns of discrimination…or disparities in
The proposal calls for considering equity and disparities in terms of the population groups identified in Rhode
Island’s Fair Employment Practices statute, §28-5-7(1)(i): race or color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, age, or country of ancestral origin.
The following is an example framing of an equity review for the recently proposed Rhode Island FY2024
budget. The review seeks to address a broad array of policy issues, it is not intended as a comprehensive
review of all policies or of the entire state budget.