On February 2, Governor Gina Raimondo presented her FY 2017 budget recommendations to the General Assembly. We are still reviewing the details of the budget proposal, but wanted to draw your attention to two issues:
Healthy Communities Bond – the Governor has proposed issuing $35 million in bonds to extend bike paths and improve state parks. Several environmental projects are also included. The bond referendum would go before voters in the November general election. The American Heart Association strongly supports increased funding for biking, walking and recreational opportunities.
Cigarette Tax Increase – The Governor also proposed increasing the state cigarette tax by 25-cents per pack. While we appreciate the Governor looking at the cigarette tax, the American Heart Association is opposed to small tax increases that will yield no public health benefit. In addition, we are concerned that none of the new revenue is being directed to prevention & cessation programs that are proven to help current smokers quit and prevent kids from ever starting this deadly habit.