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Langevin Opposes Republican Budget Plan

Thursday, March 26, 2015


Congressman Jim Langevin

Congressman Jim Langevin issued a statement Wednesday evening condemning the Republican budget plan, which passed the chamber by a vote of 228-199. Here is his statement in full:
“A successful budget clearly outlines our priorities as a nation. It should send a message to the American people about our shared vision; a vision for a future where education, jobs, quality health care and affordable housing are attainable goals. This budget does exactly the opposite. Instead, it represents an attack on our most vulnerable populations. Under this budget, Pell grants are frozen and higher education tax credits are eliminated, making college less affordable. The promise we have made to seniors through a Medicare guarantee is broken, turning this critical safety net into a voucher program and subjecting seniors to skyrocketing costs. Over the next decade, $187 billion in infrastructure investments will be eliminated. Middle class families will be the ones to pay for these devastating cuts, while the wealthiest Americans will benefit from further tax breaks.
“We celebrated this week the five-year anniversary of passage of the Affordable Care Act. Taking stock of this historic bill, we see that more than 16 million previously uninsured people have gained coverage. Health care costs are leveling off and we continue to shift toward a preventive health care model that focuses on keeping people healthy and will further drive down costs. The Affordable Care Act is working. But after more than 50 unsuccessful attempts to repeal or undermine this legislation, the Republicans have used this budget as a tool to eliminate the Affordable Care Act, once and for all.

“In Rhode Island, the impacts of this budget will be severe. Health care coverage will be eliminated for 31,000 Rhode Islanders who have signed up through the health care exchange. Head Start programs will suffer, with 120 fewer children eligible for participation in our state. Rhode Island will receive $4.2 million less funding for disadvantaged students, and $1.2 million less for educational opportunities for students with disabilities. At the higher education level, financial aid through Pell grants will be reduced for 31,000 Rhode Islanders. Funding for affordable housing will be cut by $8 million. Access to nutritious food, including locally-grown produce, will be decimated by an estimated $400 million cut to the SNAP program over five years. And despite the Republican calls for supporting job creation, job training and employment services will be available to 8,300 fewer Rhode Islanders under this budget.
“These cuts come at a time when our state and our nation can least afford it. Too many Rhode Islanders are still out of work, or just a paycheck away from homelessness or hunger. Too many young people don’t know how they will pay for college, or cut health insurance out of their budgets as a way to make ends meet. Our economy is showing the distinct signs of recovery, but that delicate balance would easily be disrupted through the implementation of these careless policies. The budget alternative that I supported lifts the draconian cuts of sequestration, invests in infrastructure and enhances our nation’s role as a global leader in research and innovation. It supports a restructuring of our tax code that benefits middle class families and closes tax loopholes for companies that ship jobs overseas. Finally, it emphasizes the need to continue to support a strong military that is second to none, that can meet the country’s security challenges and that provides the necessary support for the selfless men and women who serve in uniform.   I truly believe that we can come to a bipartisan agreement. But first, we must agree on our priorities, and those priorities must center upon the well-being of hardworking American families. To grow our economy, we need to expand opportunity – not stifle it.”


Related Slideshow: The 10 Most Politically Powerful at RI State House

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#10 - Sen. Da Ponte

The Senate Finance Chairman pushed hard in 2014 for corporate tax reform -- and combined reporting -- and was recently reappointed to his fourth term at the helm of the committee that vets the state's budget. With House Speaker Mattiello's talking about eliminating the state income tax on social security, a budget deficit and the prospect of diminishing gaming revenue, Da Ponte will have his work cut out for him chairing the powerful Senate committee. 

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#9 - Rep. DeSimone

One of the most powerful political players in Providence, the Majority leader wields his influence at the state house as part of Speaker Mattiello's team. Serving in the chamber since 1992, DeSimone rose to his current position with the ouster of former Speaker Gordon Fox in 2014. He will be a pivotal player at the State House for the City of Providence (and new Elorza administration), as the state grapples with a projected $200 million budget deficit, and Providence needs a strong advocate to appeal for what it can.  

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#8 - Bob Goldberg

The former Minority Leader continues his position as one of the state's top lobbyists, representing a wide range of clients that last year included Lifespan, GTech, Johnson and Wales, and CVS Health, to name a few. Year in, year out, Goldberg -- who is married to RI Supreme Court Justice Maureen McKenna Goldberg -- parlays his State House knowledge and connections for his well-funded clients, who in the past have included Twin River when it successfully pushed for table games on the ballot in 2012.

(Goldberg pictured at right.)

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#7 - Bill Murphy

The former Speaker of the House continues to wield unparalleled influence as a lobbyist and behind-the-scenes king maker.  While he last served as the state's most powerful elected official until 2010, Murphy's ability to exert control at the State House was evidenced by backing now-Speaker Mattiello when the battle to replace Gordon Fox took place.  Murphy's lobbying clients range from the corrections officers to payday lending to Twin River.

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#6 - Sen. Paiva Weed

The Senate President, who has been at the chamber's de facto top post since 2008, faced a strong challenge this past election season from Newport's Mike Smith, who had been an outspoken opponent against a table games expansion at Newport Grand -- a decision which Paiva-Weed ultimately came to following the rejection of a host agreement by the Newport City Council.  Paiva Weed in her opening address of this year's General Assembly session promised to make jobs and the economy her top priorities, followed closely by education.  With the school construction moratorium schedule to expire in May, watch to see how Paiva-Weed works with the House and Raimondo administration to address the burgeoning infrastructure needs.

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#5 - Sen. Ruggerio

The Senate Majority leader was first elected to the chamber in 1984, after four years in the House, and was Senate majority whip from 2003 to 2010. An administrator for the New England Laborers Labor Management Co-op Trust, Ruggerio's labor ties have helped cement his position of power in the Senate. Despite two arrests, Ruggerio has emerged relatively unscathed, advancing the legislation establishing the I-195 Redevelopment Commission, and pushing for increased parking in downtown Providence by the Garrahy judicial complex

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#4 - David Cruise

Governor Raimondo's newly chosen Legislative Director should prove to be much more than that.  While Raimondo tapped former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley staffer Stephen Neuman to be her Chief of Staff, the out-of-towner might bring in a fresh perspective, but Cruise knows the lay of the land. Having a Rhode Island political resume that includes serving as a State Senator, Governor Sundlun's Chief of Staff, and top roles at the RI Resource Recovery Corporation and as a traffic court magistrate, Cruise's policy role, while his official one, will be just one in his advisory capacity for the newly elected Governor.  

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#3 - Leo Skenyon

The Speaker of the Houses's Chief of Staff is the gatekeeper -- and like his predecessor before him, Frank Anzeveno (under former Speaker Gordon Fox), Skenyon is the key to access the Speaker. Skenyon, a former top aide to Governor Bruce Sundlun and U.S. Senator Claiborne Pell, had most recently been the Traffic Tribunal Clerk.  The former Chief of Staff to Senate-Majority leader Jack Revens in the 1980s, Skenyon has been at the helm before in orchestrating the chamber's top office.  Skenyon enters his first full session at the post along with Mattiello as the agent behind the state's biggest power broker.  

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#2 - Gov. Raimondo

The state's 75th governor -- and first woman at the helm -- marks the first return of a Democratic head-of-state since Governor Bruce Sundlun entered the office in the winter of 1991.  Raimondo however won with just 40.7% of the vote, which gave her the plurality, but not a mandate.   Bringing in a number of outsiders for key positions, and shaking up multiple Department directors, the Raimondo administration looks markedly unlike any in recent years.  How successful Raimondo is in pushing through her agenda in the first six months will go a long way to determining how powerful she will be in the next four years. 

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#1 - Speaker Mattiello

The Speaker of the House has always wielded the most power in Rhode Island, and Speaker Mattiello is now the de facto head of state for the second -- and first full -- year.  Mattiello emerged from the 2014 session earning plaudits from a wide range of supporters for pushing through a cut in the corporate income tax and changes to the estate tax.  Now, as a new General Assembly has just gotten underway, Mattiello is eying eliminating the state income tax on social security, before the Governor has submitted her budget proposal.  Look to see what the Speaker can -- and will -- accomplish in 2015.  


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