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Speaker Murphy Optimistic about Separation of Powers Bill (posted May 26, 2003)

Rhode Island Speaker William Murphy indicated that he was "very optimistic" that the General Assembly would pass a separation of powers bill this year. Interviewed on the WJAR-TV show "10 News Conference" with Jim Taricani and Bill Rappleye, the House leader said he would sit down next week with Senate leaders to work out differences in language between the House and Senate versions of the legislation. The House bill removes legislators from executive boards and commissions, but insists that the General Assembly retains "full" legislative powers, a clause that is not in the Senate language.

Asked about reports he did not get along very well with Senate President William Irons, Murphy said "you guys are making it worse than it actually is." When pressed on this point, the Speaker told the reporters, "we get along, there is a give and take."

On the subject of the state's budget deficit, he said that "it's all negotiable". But he pointed out that on Governor Don Carcieri's call for state union workers to give back pension benefits negotiated in the last contract, "we are having some difficulty with that. We don't want to tip our hand yet."

Providence Mayor David Cicilline has been pushing the city's colleges and universities for voluntary payments in lieu of taxes. He has indicated that if these negotiations fall, he will go to the General Assembly and seek legislation granting the city the power to impose new fees on colleges and universities. When asked whether Cicilline had a big hammer with the threat of General Assembly action, Murphy joked that "it might be a little one now." But he expressed his hope that the city and colleges could reach an agreement on their own. Reporters asked whether legislation threatening the university's tax-exempt status could be enacted, Murphy said "it could."
Copyright 2000Karen Martin Media Services