Rhode Island Gov. Donald Carcieri called on the General Assembly to enact legislation that would give cities control of school budgets in his annual state of the state address last week.

“This legislature has the ability to prevent property tax increases by enacting sweeping authorizations that will allow our local leaders to reduce spending,” Carcieri said, according to a prepared text of the speech. “It is long past time to allow the city and town councils of every municipality to have control over their school budgets.”

With the exception of Providence, school district budgets are set by school committees, composed of elected members, but property taxes that fund the budgets are set by municipal governments. Carcieri, who made the proposal last year, said city officials who set the tax rate should have the authority to approve all school contracts and expenditures.

The governor said his fiscal 2011 budget proposal, which will be released tomorrow, will not include tax hikes. 

Carcieri said renewable energy will be key to revitalizing the state’s economy.

“Just as our mighty rivers powered the industrial revolution that brought so many jobs and prosperity in the last century, our mighty ocean will power the energy revolution of this century,” he said. “Rhode Island is leading the nation in the development of offshore wind power.”

Scientists from the University of Rhode Island are working to create a “zoning map” that will be used to locate sites for offshore wind farms.

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