House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello received a letter from Rhode Island business organizations urging the General Assembly to budget taxpayer money to repay the roughly $90 million owed to bond holders in the 38 Studios deal. The letter was signed by ten organizations, including a number of chambers of commerce and business groups.
"We share your disappointment in having to make this challenging decision, but, by firmly declaring your support for repayment, you have sent a strong message to state and national markets that Rhode Island will live up to its financial obligations," the letter states.
In late May, Mattiello announced that he supported including the next payment of $12.5 million in the upcoming budget, and some say opponents of doing that say he is using the letter to make the case for why it is important for the state to meet its obligations.
Lawmakers have been in an ongoing debate over whether to make the next payment or default on the loan guarantee. Mattiello recently met with Wall Street ratings agencies to discuss the issue after they told the state a default would cause Rhode Island’s bond rating to suffer. A Democratic caucus met after the House’s regular session Tuesday to discuss the budget, and according to what some lawmakers have told news station Target 12 Mattiello doesn’t have the votes to approve funding for the next payment. A spokesperson for the Speaker disputes those claims.
Speaker Mattiello’s first budget is scheduled to be discussed Thursday. We will have more on this story as it develops.