Mattiello and Sasse Say Raimondo’s CCRI Free Tuition End-Around is Illegal

Friday, July 07, 2017


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Governor Raimondo (L) and Speaker Mattiello (R)

Speaker of the House Nick Mattiello and former Director of Administration Gary Sasse both claim that Gina Raimondo’s budget end-around to finance the free tuition for the Community College of RI using other state funds is illegal.

“The Governor does not have the authority to do what she suggests, which is why she proposed this legislation to begin with.  If the Senate would approve the negotiated budget, which the Senate Finance Committee recommended for passage, the Governor wouldn’t be contemplating enacting this program without the authority to do so,” said Mattiello in a statement to GoLocal on Thursday afternoon.

Similarly, Sasse tells GoLocal, “If the Governor is of the opinion that she can unilaterally spend state dollars appropriated for other purposes on free tuition or any other project she is bringing into question the integrity of the budget process. This executive action would also raise the question of why did the Governor need to submit legislation to authorize free tuition, aggressively lobby for it and support the compromise included in the fiscal year 2018 budget? 

Sasse who heads the Hassenfeld Institute at Bryant University added,”If governors had Carte Blanche authority to fund programs not authorized by the General Assembly there would be unintended consequences that might impact the State's fiscal credibility.”

As GoLocal first reported on Tuesday, CCRI was advertising on their website to apply for the free tuition program.  CCRI writes:

You've probably heard a lot about the Rhode Island Promise program, which will allow all Rhode Island high school graduates to pursue an associate degree at CCRI, and you don't have to pay tuition regardless of your family's income.

The provision authorizing the free tuition is an element of the budget that has not be passed. 

Governor's Office Responds:

"There are several administrative options well within the Governor’s authority that we are exploring to launch the Rhode Island Promise free-tuition program at CCRI this fall. As Governor Raimondo said yesterday, she will do everything in her power to protect Rhode Island’s progress. Young Rhode Islanders deserve a fair shot at jobs and opportunity, and she won’t let them get caught in the middle of a dispute between the House and Senate," said David Ortiz, spokesperson for Raimondo. 

Updated 7:20 p.m.


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