Here are 6 key takeaways from Raimondo’s State of the State address

Politics

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — In her fifth State of the State address, Gov. Gina Raimondo outlined her goals for the upcoming year.

The second-term Democrat delivered her address to lawmakers and other dignitaries Tuesday evening.

Her full 2020-21 budget proposal — which will include more details on her proposals and a plan to close a budget deficit as high as $200 million — is set to be submitted to the General Assembly on Thursday.

Watch in full: Raimondo’s 2020 State of the State address »

Here’s an overview of what she plans to focus on throughout the year:

Education

Raimondo plans to continue to make education a top priority heading into her sixth year as governor.

She announced her intention to use bond more for new Pre-K classrooms and transform the K-12 education in Rhode Island.

Commissioner for the Rhode Island Department of Education, Angelica Infante-Green, said she is thrilled Raimondo put such emphasis on education during Tuesday night’s speech.

“There’s nothing shiny or exciting about this,” Infante-Green said of the $30 million Raymond promised to invest in public schools. “This is about really staying the course doubling down in our standards.”

While the governor plans to continue her Rhode Island Promise scholarship program at the Community College of Rhode Island, she will not seek to expand it to Rhode Island College or the University of Rhode Island.

In addition, Raimondo said she hopes to help pay the student loans of math and science teachers since Infante-Green said they have a hard time attracting those types of teachers in the state.

Renewable energy

Raimondo said she wants to make Rhode Island the first state in the country to be 100% powered by renewable energy.

On Friday she will sign an executive order mandate that this happens within the next decade.

Rhode Island’s Acting Energy Commissioner Nick Ucci said while her plan is bold, it is achievable.

Raimondo’s plan has the support of Senate Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio who called it a “great initiative.”

“I think that we’ve come a long way, we just have to continue to commit to that proposal and I think we’ll be successful down the line,” Ruggerio said.

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said he wants to take a closer look at the specifics.

“I agree that it’s a good proposal, a good goal, and something that we have to work towards, but I’m curious to see what the details are and what the costs will be,” he said. “Make no mistake about it, that will lead to increased energy prices for our citizens.”

The Office of Energy Resources said Wednesday by the end of the year there will be enough clean electricity to meet one-third of the state’s demand.

“Over the coming months, OER will help lead analytical and stakeholder processes that will inform the development of realistic pathways to meet the governor’s goal,” Ucci said.

Housing

Raimondo vowed to tackle the affordable housing crisis plaguing the state of Rhode Island.

She proposed three bond measures, one of which will go toward expanding affordable housing statewide.

The announcement comes as home prices continue to increase while the construction of new homes remains limited.

Housing advocates and some state leaders applaud the move, including General Treasurer Seth Magaziner, who is also a boar member of RIHousing.

“I was especially excited that the governor proposed a permanent funding stream for affordable housing, which is something that many other states have but we don’t have,” Magaziner said.

Senate President Ruggerio also lauded the governor’s focus on housing.

“I think we have to do something for housing but not just affordable housing, but also low-cost housing so people who would not necessarily fall under the affordable housing would have a mechanism where they could get their housing,” Ruggerio said.

Gun control

Raimondo announced she would once again propose a package of gun bills, including a ban on so-called assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

She also hopes to ban untraceable “ghost guns,” and close loopholes in the background check system, two ideas Mattiello has indicated he’d be willing to consider this year.

Economic development

Raimondo touted the economy, low unemployment and economic development in places such as Quonset Business Park, where she said more than two dozen companies have moved or expanded.

She proposed raising the minimum wage statewide, cutting unemployment insurance taxes and expanding the Real Jobs RI training program.

Vaping

Following her initial decision to temporarily ban flavored vaping products, Raimondo hopes she can implement a permanent ban on flavored e-cigarettes statewide by the end of the year.

The ban would be similar to that of Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, who led his state to be the first in the country to enact a permanent ban on flavored e-cigarette products.

The Rhode Island Department of Health recently heard from those who are both for and against the flavor ban as they mull whether or not to make it permanent.

Raimondo issued a temporary, four-month ban back in October in response to the increasing number of vaping related illnesses plaguing the nation.


Kim Kalunian and Anita Baffoni contributed to this report.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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