RI voters back $250M school repair bond

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Rhode Island voters have approved a plan to borrow $250 million to repair crumbling school buildings across the state, Eyewitness News projects.

The proposal is part of a broader plan from Gov. Gina Raimondo and Treasurer Seth Magaziner to invest $1 billion in school infrastructure over the next 10 years. Experts hired by the state have estimated it would take $2.2 billion to bring every school into good condition.

The state plans to borrow $500 million over 10 years on the state level, continuing a practice of reimbursing cities and towns between $80 million and $100 million a year for repairs they’ve already made, and asking communities to cover the rest of the cost. 

The state already covers between 35% and 97% of all school construction costs depending on the district, but a plan approved by the General Assembly would create a bonus system to incentivizes communities to move quickly to make repairs. The state typically requires communities to pay for projects up front and then be reimbursed over time, but Magaziner has said he’s hopeful the $250-million bond will support pay-as-you-go projects.

Voters also approved questions 2 and 3 on the ballot, which involved borrowing $70 million to the state’s colleges and $47 million for the environmental causes.

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