RI State Report: Fung’s Governor Moves + 38 Studios Hearings
Saturday, September 14, 2013
Fung Launches Exploratory Committee for Potential Gubernatorial Run
On Tuesday, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung announced the formation of an exploratory committee for a potential run for Governor. According to Fung, it has become abundantly clear that the citizens of Rhode Island are looking for a leader based upon his travels around the state.
Fung stated: “They are looking for someone who has both the private and public sector experience necessary to get Rhode Islanders back to work and get this state back on track.
“I have assembled a diverse group of individuals to explore whether or not my experience and skillset can help lead Rhode Island into better times. Having been born and raised in Rhode Island, I am heartbroken to see so many Rhode Islanders hurting. People are telling me they are worried about paying their mortgage, putting food on the table, and having enough money to fill their tank for the next job interview. This is unacceptable.
“For far too long, we have been branded as the worst place to start or run a business, one of the top three states in unemployment, one of the worst states in the country in total tax burden, the second worst state in population growth, and one of the worst states for retirees. We need to change direction and we need to do it fast.
“I believe we need a strong leader who can not only get our great state back on track, but also put a heavy emphasis on providing the best education we can to our children from K-16. The next generation has to be our highest priority, because without them, our state will fail. Unfortunately, we are seeing our children leave our state in droves for lack of opportunity. We must focus on education, not only to close the skills gap that we hear so much about, but to provide our children with a better opportunity.
“At the end of the day, we need a leader who will shout from the top of his lungs that ‘Rhode Island is open for business.’ I will make it my priority to make Rhode Island competitive not only in New England and the Northeast, but the country as a whole. We have to modernize our regulatory process to let business leaders know that we want their business. We need to market our assets of air, water, and rail to retain our current businesses and attract new ones.
“I will use the next couple of months to evaluate whether I can bring the same successes we have had in Cranston to Rhode Island.”
Rep. Marcello Gives Update on EDC, 38 Studios Hearings
On Wednesday, the House Committee on Oversight met to continue a review of documents obtained from the RI Economic Development Corporation related to 38 Studios. GoLocal reached out to Rep. Michael J. Marcello (D-Dist. 41, Scituate, Cranston), the Chairman of the Oversight Committee, to find out what was discussed on Wednesday and to learn the committee's plans moving forward.
“This sixth House Oversight Committee hearing on this topic alone focused on a review of the Economic Development Corporation documents after its decision to award the $75 million loan guarantee to 38 Studios. We learned that there was a clear lack of oversight conducted by the EDC on this loan," Marcello told GoLocal. "I am also concerned that the EDC staff signed a waiver to the project monitoring agreement which eliminated the requirement to receive written reports which raised some significant warning signals. It is obvious from the documents that the company was clearly undercapitalized from the start and they were scrambling to come up with necessary funding.
“These hearings have provided the first opportunity to review these documents in a public setting, with all of our meetings televised. The EDC has been cooperative and has provided us with thousands of pages of documents. I will now seek input from the committee members as to additional documents that they may be seeking and other actions that they feel may be appropriate. A complete hearing can not be accomplished without live testimony and it is my intention to invite relevant witnesses, mindful of the fact that some of the key people are directly involved in a civil suit which will have an effect on my timing, but not on my intent.”
Malik Talks RI Sales Tax Elimination
A new state commission is examining what would result from reducing or possibly eliminating the Rhode Island sales tax. The 13-member study panel held its first organizational meeting on Thursday and the commission’s chairman Rep. Jan Malik (D-Dist. 67, Barrington, Warren) gave GoLocal the details on what transpired.
“We had a very productive first meeting yesterday with a great group of commission members who are anxious to get started working on this issue of studying all aspects of the sales tax to make our state more competitive. This is a fact-finding commission that will gather a lot of material and take a lot of testimony that will be presented to the General Assembly early in the 2014 session.
“I anticipate having at least five more public meetings. At our next meeting on September 30, we will look at four other states which have no sales tax – New Hampshire, Delaware, Montana and Oregon – and see how they do it. We will have a meeting to look at various options of how Rhode Island can make up the difference in having a lower sales tax or no sales tax, being well aware that the sales tax generates $900 million in our state budget.
“We also will have a meeting on what benefits Rhode Island can achieve by reducing or eliminating the sales tax, and we will ask business owners to come in and talk about how the sales tax affects them. We look forward to taking public testimony. We are excited to get to work and compile a report with some good suggestions for all the members of the General Assembly to review and discuss.”
The commission’s next meeting is on September 30.
Reed: How to Get Republicans on Board to Avoid Government Shutdown
On Friday, U.S. Senator Jack Reed held media availability to discuss new threats of a federal government shutdown driven by House Republicans’ efforts to repeal of the Affordable Care Act. With the annual federal budget set to expire in just 17 days, Reed told GoLocal that this looming problem can only be fixed through bipartisanship. Here's Reed's strategy to get a deal hammered out.
"Simple. The Republican leadership needs to pull its members back from the brink and explain to them that shutting down the government will not stop health reform, but it will hurt our economy. If Republicans force a prolonged shutdown thousands of federal employees and contractors in Rhode Island could be furloughed, including civilian contractors who have already been hit by the sequester. It could also halt infrastructure projects and block things like SBA loans for small businesses. Social Security checks would still go out, but new benefit registration and others seeking assistance could face severe delays. We’ve got 17 days to get this done, and Democrats are proposing a smaller budget than we had last year so this should be resolvable. Republican leaders should stop trying to pass a budget with only Republican votes and instead work with Democrats on a bipartisan plan to keep the government open and our economy moving forward."
The U.S. reached its statutory debt limit of just under $16.7 trillion on May 19. On August 26, the Treasury informed Congress that if the debt ceiling was not raised in time, the U.S. would be forced to default on its debt by the end of October.
Politicians Honor the Twelve-Year Anniversary of September 11, 2001
A number of Rhode Island politicians issued statements on Wednesday regarding the twelve-year anniversary of September 11, 2011—here's what several of them had to say.
U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse:
“On the twelfth anniversary of the tragic events of September 11, 2001, my thoughts and prayers are with the victims of that day’s attacks and their families. We will never forget those lost. Nor will we forget the selfless first responders who heeded the call to action, or our servicemembers who continue to protect Americans at home and abroad. Today, let us take the time to honor the fallen, and to remember that even in the face of great tragedy, our American spirit remains unshakeable.”
U.S. Sen. Jack Reed:
"Today our thoughts and prayers are with the innocent victims, heroic first responders, and many others whose lives were forever changed on 9/11," tweeted Reed.
U.S. Rep. David Cicilline:
“On this very somber anniversary, we remember the lives of 2,977 innocent men, women, and children who were killed twelve years ago today by terrorists in attacks in New York City; Washington, D.C.; and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The horrific and brutal attacks that we witnessed the morning of September 11, 2001, forever changed our country and the world. During these, some of our nation’s most difficult hours, we also saw inspiring examples of the very best that America has to offer.”
U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin:
"During this tumultuous time, it is important to take pause and remember September 11. Today, we think of and pray for the victims and their families. Today, we thank our nation's brave first responders. Today, we are thankful to live in the United States of America."
Providence Mayor Angel Taveras:
"Today, it is with somber reflection that we remember the lives that were lost and the families that were forever changed by the attacks of September 11, 2001. We thank all of our military families and first responders who have dedicated their lives to protecting ours, and who rose heroically to the occasion on that day 12 years ago. Their courageous actions were a true example of the tremendous strength and resilience of the American people."
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