Equity review of annual state budget would highlight advances and areas of improvement


Weayonnoh Nelson-Davies, Executive Director of The Economic Progress Institute (EPI), State Senators Jonathan Acosta (District 16) and Tiara Mack (District 4), State Representatives Terri Cortvriend (District 72) and Rebecca Kislak (District 4), and 32  community organization members of the Equity Impact Campaign released an equity review of the Governor’s proposed FY2024 budget and announced support of three equity bills. The proposed bills will require an annual equity review for potential disparities in regard to race, gender, disability and other areas contained in the design of the state budget, equity impact statements for bills involving the criminal justice system, and equity statements for all proposed legislation.

“The diversity of people and cultures are what make Rhode Island a great place to live and work,” said Weayonnoh Davies-Nelson, Executive Director of The Economic Progress Institute. “The state budget is often referred to as a document of our shared values. Providing equity impact statements for proposed state budgets and laws will bring our values to life and consider the needs of all Rhode Islanders, including those who have been marginalized.”

Legislation proposed by Representative Terri Cortvriend, HB6110, and Senator Jonathan Acosta, SB527, mandate “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 outcome”
  • “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 outcome”

The Equity Impact Campaign released an equity review of the Governor’s proposed budget utilizing the three goals outlined in Acosta and Cortvriend’s bills. The equity review focused on policy areas including taxation, education, health care, economic development, housing, criminal justice, public transportation, and paid leave. The equity review looked at policy areas through the status quo, new measures proposed, and opportunities to improve equity.



“Previous state budgets were developed with the intention to lift every resident but were frequently blind to overlooked communities,” said State Representative Terri Cortvriend. “Creating an equity statement for state budgets will allow us to highlight the equity areas we are proud of and where we need to improve. Rhode Island is at its best when we are providing an equitable opportunity for everyone to succeed.”

The Equity Impact Campaign also endorsed Senator Tiara Mack’s (District 4) equity in the criminal justice system bill, SB636, and Representative Rebecca Kislak’s (District 4) bill to provide equity statements for all proposed legislation, HB5763. Senator Mack’s bill directs the racial impact statements be prepared and made available for any proposed legislation that impacts individuals impacted by the criminal justice system and involves grants or expenditures; it also makes possible racial impact statements in other policy areas. Representative Kislak’s bill would require brief equity impact statements to be submitted with all proposed legislation.


Equity Review Proposed FY2024 Rhode Island State Budget


S0636 2023 Senate Bill


H5763 House 2023








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