RI State Report: Chafee Out + Budget Surpluses
Saturday, September 07, 2013
We’ll also cover the ribbon cutting of a new Providence youth center, and a new federal grant intended to help improve the Block Island Waste Water Treatment Facility. Lastly, we’ll examine Rep. Shekarchi’s request that 50 percent of any state budget surplus go to cities and town.
Chafee Announces He Will Not Seek Reelection
Gov. Lincoln Chafee announced on Wednesday that he would not be seeking reelection in 2014.
Chafee—who made the declaration at a press conference outside of the Cranston DMV—faced a tough reelection battle in 2014, and suffered from dismal poll numbers. In fact, a February Brown University poll found that Chafee’s approval rating stood at just 25 percent.
The same poll showed that Chafee’s likely gubernatorial opponents—Treasurer Gina Raimondo and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras—had approval ratings of 56 percent and 63.7 percent respectively.
Aside from trailing in the polls, Chafee was also a distant third in fundraising, according to the most recent public finance filings. As of last month’s filing deadline, Chafee had $377,391 on hand—compared to $2.1 million banked by Raimondo and Taveras’ $691,500 cash on hand.
Chafee, a one-time Republican U.S. senator, was elected governor in 2010 as an Independent, winning 39% of the vote. In May, Chafee switched his party designation from Independent to Democrat.
One of the first politicians to comment on Chafee's decision was Lt. Governor Elizabeth Roberts, who issued the following statement:
"I respect Governor Chafee's decision not to seek re-election for another term, and knowing his dedication to our state and his commitment to public service, I trust it was not an easy decision. For the remainder of our terms in office, I look forward to continuing my close partnership with the Governor toward full implementation of HealthSource RI and other important health reforms that will improve the lives of Rhode Island's families and strengthen our small businesses."
Source of data: ricampaignfinance.com
Jonathan Maciel to Run for Cicilline’s Seat
A 26-year-old political outsider named Jonathan Maciel from Cumberland has announced he is running as an Independent candidate for the 1st District Congressional seat presently held by Democrat David Cicilline.
GoLocal spoke to Maciel on Thursday to discuss why he’s running and what issues he’ll be focusing on.
“I think we're at a critical juncture that is very time sensitive, a crossroads where we can continue down the path we're on of destroying the working class or fix the problems that plague our nation,” said Maciel.
As for what issues he’ll be honing in on, Maciel commented:
“My main response is the economy. But it's more than that. It's tax reform, broad interest rate reform, budget reform, financial services reform, and the creation of an apprenticeship program for youth and veterans. It all stems from a clear fact that trickle-down economics doesn't work and it has never worked.”
Maciel also addressed the uphill battle he faces in terms of fundraising against Cicilline, who has $182,118 cash on hand as of June 30, 2013.
“I just got my FEC ID the other day so I will be getting an IRS tax id for the ‘Maciel for Congress’ campaign committee soon. Starting off, I will be accepting donations either thru Paypal or a check made out to ‘Maciel for Congress.’ I have several fundraising events that are being planned throughout the state—ranging from banquets, buffet, barbeques, and concerts.
“I don't expect to receive much in the way of fundraising. Just enough for yard signs, mail cards, bumper stickers, pins, and the like. I have no plans to do commercials or billboards. That's very impersonal and often just leads to a smear campaign. If I'm shocked with a giant amount of donations that I didn't expect, I'd rather have 'zero gain' fundraising events where I don't net any additional funds from it. I'd rather put the effort in to meet more people rather than make more in fundraising. Events will most likely be limited to weekends since I do work during the week.”
Source of data: OpenSecrets.org
Fox, Taveras Cut the Ribbon on New Youth Center
On Wednesday, House Speaker Gordon Fox, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and Bank of America Rhode Island President Bill Hatfield hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Billy Taylor House youth center in the Mount Hope neighborhood of Providence.
“When I was approached by the board members, I was proud to work with Mayor Taveras and Bank of America to facilitate the house donation and the exciting plans that they have for our young people,” said Speaker Fox, who also obtained a $5,000 legislative grant for the new organization’s recently completed summer programming. “The organization will provide invaluable assistance to the youth of Mount Hope to learn vocational and job-training skills to help them succeed in life.”
Mayor Taveras, a strong supporter of the Mount Hope neighborhood, worked with City Councilman Kevin Jackson to obtain a Community Development Block Grant, pending HUD approval, of $74,000 for the renovation of the house.
“Billy Taylor House is an important resource for the Mount Hope community, and we are grateful to the volunteers and supporters who provide vital services to Providence’s young people,” said Mayor Taveras. “I was pleased to work with Speaker Fox to secure a new home for the Billy Taylor House and I thank Bank of America for their generous donation.”
With the support of Speaker Fox and Mayor Taveras, Bank of America donated the three-story vacated building to the Billy Taylor House, a nonprofit organization assisting the youth of the Mount Hope neighborhood through workforce development and life skills programming.
Bank of America’s Hatfield surprised Billy Taylor House leaders at the event with a $10,000 grant from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, which will be used to help speed-up the renovation process.
The goal of the all-volunteer organization is to carry on the legacy of Billy Taylor, who grew up in the house that will soon be renovated in his name. Taylor was a mentor to hundreds of Mount Hope youth before he died in 1986 at the age of 29 from a life-long heart ailment. A park on Camp Street also bears his name.
Reed, Langevin Announces $1.2M Grant for Block Island Waste Water Facility
On Tuesday, U.S. Senator Jack Reed and U.S. Representative Jim Langevin visited Block Island to announce that the Town of New Shoreham is receiving $1.2 million in federal funding to upgrade the Block Island Waste Water Treatment Facility and all five existing pump stations to ensure the facility continues to protect the community from harmful pollutants and preserve surrounding wetlands, coastal ponds, and water resources.
The Town of New Shoreham received both a $561,700 grant and a $689,000 low interest rate loan through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Water and Waste Disposal Program.
“The strength of our local economy depends on the health of our water resources. Wastewater treatment is essential to prevent pathogens and nutrients from impairing the water supply and posing a threat to public health and the environment,” said Reed.
“Block Island is one of Rhode Island’s jewels, with its natural beauty and robust tourism. In order to preserve that environment and further strengthen the local economy, it is essential that we make smart investments, and I was proud to join Senator Reed in support of this infrastructure project,” said Rep. Langevin. “The $1.2 million in federal funds will benefit year-round and seasonal residents by providing crucial upgrades to New Shoreham’s Waste Water Treatment Facility, while protecting the island’s natural assets from harmful pollutants.”
Shekarchi: Budget Surplus Should Go to Cities, Towns
In the wake of the recent announcement that the state ended the previous fiscal year with a surplus, Rep. K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick) said he intends to prefile legislation to require that 50 percent of any state budget surplus go to cities and towns, distributed according to the existing state aid formula.
“I think the news that we ended the year with a surplus is indicative of the fact that the General Assembly and the administration, and the various department heads, are working hard to be frugal and to spend the taxpayers’ money prudently,” said Shekarchi “I also feel that any time we have the opportunity to do so, such as using surplus funds, we must help our municipalities as they continue to struggle with their own budget concerns.”
According to preliminary figures reported late last week, the state ended Fiscal Year 2013 (which ended June 30) with a $97 million surplus, which is roughly $3.6 million more than the $93.4 million surplus that was built into the current (FY14) budget.
“I believe this money should go back to cities and towns, but I also believe it should not be used for new goods or personnel,” said Shekarchi. “Our communities are struggling financially largely because of unfunded or under-funded liabilities, such as pension plans, and every extra dollar that can be used to address that fiscal situation should be. Doing that will be more beneficial for our municipalities and their taxpayers in the long run than hiring more staff.”
Rhode Island legislators are allowed to prefile bills in November to be considered when the General Assembly session begins in January. Pre-filing begins on November 15 and the 2014 legislative session will begin on Tuesday, January 7.
- RI State Report: 2014 Budget Highlights
- RI State Report: Big Money For Rhode Island’s Hospitals + Coast
- RI State Report: Drunk Driving, School Safety, and Synthetic Drugs
- RI State Report: EDC Overhaul + Twin River Table Games
- RI State Report: Education Bills + Chafee Switches Parties
- RI State Report: Gay Marriage + RI Launches Feel-Good Campaign
- RI State Report: Gay Marriage, Stress + Tax-Free Liquor Days
- RI State Report: Grants For Vets + Bishop Tobin Switches Parties
- RI State Report: Guns, Early Bird Liquor + Chafee’s Image Problem
- RI State Report: Help For Voters + RI Small Businesses
- RI State Report: Made in RI + Tax Incentives to Live Healthier
- RI State Report: Marathon Bombings, Job Numbers + Sakonnet Tolls
- RI State Report: Marijuana Decriminalization & Safer Schools
- RI State Report: Marriage Equality + Tax Hikes On The Rich
- RI State Report: Medicaid Fraud, Kidnapping + Seat Belt Laws
- RI State Report: Minimum Wage, Woonsocket + Cutting School Days
- RI State Report: More Tolls, Bryant Pays + Casino Theft
- RI State Report: Pro-Life Plates + 10-Cent Sakonnet Toll
- RI State Report: Rhode Island Gets Big Money For Housing + Medicare
- RI State Report: Sexual Discrimination, State Worker Theft + More
- RI State Report: Twin River, CPR Certification + Drunk-Driving Loophole
- RI State Report: Unemployment, Gay Marriage & Fox’s Economic Plan
- RI State Report: Veto, Veto, Veto
- RI State Report: Workforce Grants + Relief for Homeowners