PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A group of Rhode Island House Democrats have begun drawing up a new agenda aimed at providing support to working poor and middle-class residents in the state.
“In the aftermath of the election, I think many people started to realize that there is a large group of Americans who feel like they have been neglected,” said Rep. Gregg Amore, one of more than a dozen legislators who announced the package of proposals Thursday.
The “Fair Shot Agenda” incorporates four proposals: an increase in the state’s minimum wage, repairs to school structures, mandatory paid sick days, and reductions in the car tax for the working class.
On Wednesday, lawmakers introduced a bill to increase the state’s minimum wage by 90 cents this summer. This agenda pushes for a $15 minimum wage by 2022. The group already expects pushback on the topic, but Rep. Marcia Ranglin-Vassell argued that every extra dollar in wallets of her constituents will be put back into the local economy in some way.
Lawmakers estimate school building repairs would cost the state about a million dollars.
“Every day we are sending our children to school in buildings that do not meet the most basic criteria of being safe, warm and dry,” said Rep. Katherine Kazarian. “We will fight with everything we’ve got to secure the greater state investment that is desperately needed.”
According to Rep. Aaron Regunberg, “right now, 41 percent of private sector workers in Rhode Island have no access to any paid sick days.” The “Fair Shot Agenda” would call for every employee to accrue seven sick days a year.
The last pillar is a plan to create what the advocates call a fairer tax system. “We’re going to have to look really closely at where that revenue is going to come from, and where in the budget it’s going to come from,” said Amore. This involves reducing the regressive car tax for the middle class.