New $8.2B RI budget plan pays 38 Studios debt
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - The Rhode Island House is poised to vote on an $8.2 billion budget proposal that increases funding for schools by $40 million and holds the line on taxes while honoring the state's debt for its failed investment in Curt Schilling's 38 Studios - at least for now.
The plan calls for a $2.5 million payment to bond holders related to a loan guarantee given to the former Red Sox pitcher's video game company. Several lawmakers favor defaulting on the bonds and will likely seek to remove the payment during legislative debate.
The House budget plan rejects Gov. Lincoln Chafee's call to reduce the corporate income tax.
The House intends to vote on the budget next week after the House Finance Committee endorsed it Tuesday night.
Report warns of consequences to 38 Studios default
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Calls to pay what Rhode Island owes for its failed investment in Curt Schilling's 38 Studios are growing louder as a business-backed public policy group warned of dire consequences should the state default.
The Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council issued a report Tuesday predicting that defaulting on the debt would hurt the state's bond rating and increase borrowing costs. The report suggests those costs would exceed the $90 million the state still owes for the loan guarantee given to the failed video game company started by former Red Sox pitcher.
On Monday Moody's Investor Service downgraded the bonds issued for the deal, noting that many lawmakers favor defaulting.
Gov. Lincoln Chafee says the downgrade shows defaulting is a bad idea and that he believes the state will honor the debt.
Amtrak: Subsidy cuts would jeopardize service
WASHINGTON (AP) - Amtrak's president says long-distance trains and some short-haul routes would be jeopardized and service in the busy Northeast corridor might have to be slowed if federal subsidy cuts proposed by a House subcommittee are realized.
Iowa Republican Rep. Tom Latham is chairman of the House Appropriations Committee's transportation subcommittee. He proposed a fiscal 2014 transportation budget Tuesday that includes $950 million in operating and capital subsidies for Amtrak, nearly a third less than the railroad received last year.
Amtrak's Joseph Boardman says the House has decided the nation should be connected by train service but doesn't want to pay for the money-losing routes to needed to achieve that.
He says Amtrak lost $558 million on long-distance service last year but profited from its high-speed Acela service in the Northeast.
Casino games begin at Twin River
LINCOLN, R.I. (AP) - Bettors will soon be able to play blackjack, roulette and craps at the Twin River Casino as Rhode Island moves to get a head start on neighboring Massachusetts.
Twin River will open 65 new tables offering Las Vegas-style games with a ribbon cutting Wednesday morning. The Lincoln, R.I., facility won voter approval last fall to expand from a slot parlor into a full-fledged casino.
On a recent tour of the new tables, Twin River chairman John Taylor said the facility has hired some 400 new employees to support the expansion.
Supporters say the expansion will protect state gambling revenue from competition from Massachusetts, where casinos have been authorized but not yet built.
Those who prefer Twin River's slots can rest easy: Twin River still has more than 4,500 slot machines.
Police visit home of Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez
NORTH ATTLEBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) - State and local police spent hours at the home of New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez on Tuesday night as another group of officers searched an industrial park about a mile away where a body was discovered the day before.
Police at the scene and prosecutors would not comment on the actions while Sports Illustrated, citing an unidentified source, reported that Hernandez was not believed to be a suspect in what was being treated as a possible homicide. The magazine says police have spoken with Hernandez.
Sports Illustrated reports that the link between Hernandez and the case was a rented Chevrolet Suburban with Rhode Island plates that police had been searching for. The Sun Chronicle of Attleboro, Mass., says the SUV was registered to Enterprise and investigators wanted to analyze it for fingerprints.
The Associated Press could not independently confirm the reports.
No cause of death had been released for the body found about 5:30 p.m. Monday.
No contest plea to 2011 murder from Hopkinton man
SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (AP) - A Hopkinton man has pleaded no contest to second-degree murder in a deal reached with prosecutors on the first day of jury selection in his trial.
Thirty-2-year-old Jared L. Tefft on Tuesday pleaded no-contest to second-degree murder, arson and assault in the January 2011 killing of his 44-year-old housemate, Peter Newman Jr.
Tefft had faced a charge of first-degree murder.
Police have said Tefft got into an argument with Newman in their house and knocked him unconscious. Thinking Newman was dead, Tefft then allegedly set the house on fire to cover up what had happened.
Superior Court Justice Melanie Wilk Thunberg sentenced Tefft to serve 40 years in prison.
Providence councilor wants Birch oversight review
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - A Providence councilman wants a city review of how a vocational school could have violated the civil rights of the developmentally disabled for years by unnecessarily segregating them in a "sheltered workshop" where they were paid little or no wages for manual labor.
Councilman David Salvatore on Tuesday called for a review of oversight at the Harold A. Birch Vocational School.
The U.S. Justice Department last week reached a settlement with the city and state over violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act at the Birch School and a state-licensed program where many Birch students were later employed. The sheltered workshop has been shut down and the program is being overhauled.
Salvatore says he wants to understand how this happened so that it never happens again.
Warwick beach reopened to swimming
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Rhode Island health officials have reopened City Park Beach in Warwick to swimming after bacteria counts returned to acceptable levels.
The state Department of Health said Tuesday it was recommending that the beach be reopened to swimming because water quality tests showed it was again safe.
North Kingstown Town Beach and Oakland Beach in Warwick remain closed because of high bacteria counts.
The health department continually monitors water quality at Rhode Island beaches throughout the summer months to ensure healthy conditions.
ENVIRONMENTAL LEADERSHIP INTERNSHIPS
4 RI students to do Nature Conservancy internships
CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. (AP) - Four Central Falls high school students are among those selected to participate in a national environmental group's program to expose urban youth to nature and conservation careers.
The students will do paid internships in The Nature Conservancy's Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future, or LEAF, program. They will travel to Brunswick, Maine, to work alongside restoration experts, scientists and others. Outside working hours, the students will camp, canoe, hike and do other outdoor recreation.
The director of the Nature Conservancy's Rhode Island chapter says the LEAF program helps open students' eyes to career possibilities, build self-confidence, develop work skills and foster a love of nature.
Students were also selected from Boston; New Haven, Conn.; New York City; Plainfield, N.J., Philadelphia; Atlanta; Chicago; Denver; Seattle; and Los Angeles.
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