Government

Fiscal 2018 Budget Includes DEM Staff Cuts

PROVIDENCE — The Rhode Island Department of Administration has announced a plan to cut $25 million, as part of its directive, in the fiscal 2018 state budget.

“We have made some difficult decisions, but this is the responsible path forward and we will continue to look for ways to maximize efficiencies as we head into a difficult budget year,” wrote Department of Administration (DOA) director Michael DiBiase in a press release. “This is not a plan built on one-time scoops. There is no silver bullet. Every decision was carefully weighed and considered. We need to take actions that do not compromise the short- and long-term investments the State has made in recent history. These savings are tied to good policy and structural efficiencies, which will help us cut down on the looming $237 million projected deficit for Fiscal Year 2019.”

The plan includes $15.1 million in “personnel savings,” $5 million in “general government efficiencies,” and $4.9 million in contracts and grants.

About $6.5 million of the personnel savings will be derived from a one-time retirement incentive to state employees who are already eligible to retire, according to DiBiase. The payment will equal twice the value of an employee’s annual longevity bonus, with a total cap of $40,000. About 940 executive branch employees are estimated to be eligible for retirement by the end of this year, according to DOA.

At the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, 15 employees have already elected to take the payment, according to DOA. Here are the titles of those who have elected to retire: associate director of natural resource management; assistant director of financial and central management; chief of the Division of Parks and Recreation; deputy chief of Legal Services; supervising environmental scientist; deputy chief of Parks and Recreation; administrative assistant; three senior environmental scientists; principal marine biologist; principal wildlife biologist; air-quality specialist; assistant regional park manager; and senior clerk.

The DOA’s fiscal 2018 budget also includes the elimination of state-only funded services that don’t have federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) approval or federal match dollars, full-time equivalent reductions, and several streamlining initiatives.

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  1. Just lovely … Shows Remundo nor the legislation doesn’t give a dam about RI Environmental Issues
    Nor the people who over see the States Parks or Environment….!

  2. This is terrible! Devasting cuts into the bones.

    You’re right, Ray, to draw the bead on the Governor. She’s making a huge pretense to appear "Green." Pressure on her might help restore some of these positions, but the Speaker and the Senate President need their feet held even closer to the fire.

    Salute to Save the Bay for trying to move heaven and earth these past few years to protect and restore DEM’s budget, but to no avail. The entire environmental community needs to rally round. I would expect, at the very least, that the the Environmental Council of Rhode Island will issue a strong statement about this issue and rally its member organizations to lobby the Governor, the Speaker, and the President of the Senate, and the local reps and senators of their membership.

  3. The first thing that should be cut is the state police. Cutting DEM staff seems to be a yearly habit of the legislature. But what can we expect when real estate criminals and wall street operators run the state. Another thing that makes it worse is a great deal of subsidy goes to the biotech industry, but the result of using biotech for economic development is unaffordable health care. So they cut Medicaid as its price goes up despite the fact that it is a direct result of how the Governor and legislature work to make the rich richer and everyone else poorer.

  4. When I started working for the Division of Forest Environment/ DEM in 1982 there were 80 employees now 10. Property responsibilities have increased from less than 20,000 acres to over 45,0000. The State DOES NOT manage these properties especially encroachment on these properties, it allows others to have campsites and collect revenue on State land, and when these were brought to the attention of supervisors NOTHING was done, too much to survey property. Programs and responsibilities have increased, yes computers have helped do administrative work but on the ground work and Division budgets/staff have been so reduced trees on State land are dying and there is no plan to do anything except put out fires actual and interaction with public needs. Staff reductions and staff that do nothing and even with complaints to Supervisors NOTHING is done except empty promises that things will be done, see a theme here? I retired early because I was sick of lack of commitment of the State to the environment and afraid the State would break more contracts and promises for my retirement which the state stole from most employees by using no reply is a yes vote to change the contract.
    There is one hope, new staff changes have placed a competent staff member to manage some of the State’s forests hopefully something will be done.
    Bruce Payton, retired (2017) Deputy Chief Division of Forest Environment

  5. We need the equivalent of the Energize Rhode Island coalition to tackle this neglect of our terrestrial and marine environment.. We have plenty of local conservation organizations around the state, but we lack a plan for engaging them and their membership to lobby for adequate DEM funding and an appropriately aggressive DEM leadership attitude. Audubon and Save the Bay are organized and engaged, but there are a host of other organizations—land trusts in every town, for example—that are hardly in the game.

  6. With these cuts to the budget, I suppose that our rewly re-opened tourist information on Route 95 will continue to show our best face with the multitude of porta toilets we are providing for visitors. Are we becoming a s***hole?

  7. Gina, once again for the people and the environment. NOT. This is horrible news. The DEM is already so understaffed stuff can’t get done. Again I say STORMWATER MANAGEMENT MUCH?

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