Budget Invests to Fix Rhode Island's School Buildings, Protects State's Progress, Preserves Rhode Island Values
For 4th Straight Year, Raimondo Protects Funding for Education & Training with No Broad-Based Tax Increases
FY19 Budget Includes Tuition-Free Community College, Car Tax Relief, Record Investment in K-12 Education, Additional Funding for Most Vulnerable Rhode Islanders
PROVIDENCE, RI- Governor Gina M. Raimondo signed the FY19 budget today at the State House and spoke of the values that bring Rhode Islanders together. The budget passed by the legislature makes a record investment in K-12 education, supports the Governor's plan to make a once-in-a-generation investment to fix the state's school buildings. It makes her innovative and effective Real Jobs Rhode Island training program permanent. The budget the Governor signed also gives young people in foster care the option to continue access to care until the age of 21, doubles funding for senior centers and invests in higher-quality childcare.
"A state budget is more than just a spreadsheet. It's a statement on our values. As Rhode Islanders, we value opportunity, education and community. Because of the choices we've made together, our economy is stronger today than it's been in a generation. We've made a lot of progress in recent years, and we need to keep going to ensure that everyone is included," said Governor Raimondo. "Together, we're going to fix our kids' school buildings, ensure everyone has a shot to compete for a good job and protect the most vulnerable people in our state, including Rhode Islanders with disabilities, young people in foster care and our seniors. This budget protects the progress we've made and reflects the values we share. I thank the legislature for their hard work."
The $9.6 billion, preserves tuition-free access to the Community College of Rhode Island, invests $147.9 million in state funds to fix Rhode Island's roads and bridges and supports the second year of the car tax phase out Governor Raimondo signed into law last year. Rhode Islanders will see a nearly 25 percent reduction in their next car tax bill compared with the bill they received before the phase out started. This is the fourth consecutive budget Governor Raimondo has signed without any broad-based tax increases.
"This is a budget of which we can all be proud. We worked very hard to live within our means and avoid increasing the burdens on taxpayers, while investing in jobs and education, and helping people on Medicaid, seniors and the developmentally disabled. It's a realistic, responsible budget, and it maintains our commitment to phasing out the automobile excise tax, which I know is important to our state's taxpayers," said House Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello (D-Dist. 15, Cranston).
President of the Senate Dominick J. Ruggerio said, "This budget includes many Senate priorities, including increased education aid, investment in school buildings, and funding for the care of individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities and DCYF. It maintains the progress we have made in lowering taxes to improve our business climate while also investing in economic development, and it provides Rhode Island with the highest percentage of revenue in the nation for sports wagering. This was a collaborative effort among the Senate, House and Governor Raimondo, and I am grateful for their partnership in development of this responsible, compassionate budget."
Our Values: Standing Up for Education
Shortly after taking office, Governor Raimondo ended the freeze on school construction and increased funding for high-priority school construction projects. In January, she announced a plan to make a $1 billion statewide investment in school construction and school repairs. Her plan was approved overwhelmingly in both chambers and will be Question One on the November ballot.
The FY19 budget makes additional investments that build on progress from prior years, including: • Record funding for K-12 education, including continued funding to support all-day kindergarten in every community; • $6 million for the second year of the Rhode Island Promise Scholarship program, which gives every Rhode Island high school graduate the opportunity to attend the Community College of Rhode Island tuition-free; • Funding to support the CS4RI initiative that made Rhode Island the first -- and only -- state in America to offer computer science in every school; • $1.1 million for public Pre-K. Under Governor Raimondo's leadership, Rhode Island has tripled the number of public Pre-K classrooms in the state; • $500,000 for dual and concurrent enrollment so high school students can earn college credit for free while still in high school; and • $250,000 in additional funding to support English Language Learners who are in the most intensive programs.
The budget also includes $4 million to support the creation of the Northern Rhode Island Higher Education Center. The Center, which will be located in Woonsocket, will replicate the success of the Westerly Higher Education Center that Governor Raimondo established in 2016. The new Center will help Rhode Islanders get jobs that employers are creating in northern Rhode Island and the Blackstone Valley. The Governor first announced this proposal in her State of the State earlier this year.
Our Values: Creating Jobs and Strengthening the Economy
Four years ago, Rhode Island had the nation's highest unemployment rate, and before Governor Raimondo took office, Business Insider ranked the state's economy #36 in America. Since she's taken office, she has worked with the legislature to revamp the state's approach to job training and economic development. Under her leadership, Rhode Island's unemployment rate has been cut by one-third and employers have added 17,500 new jobs. There are more than half a million jobs in Rhode Island right now, more than ever before. Business Insider now ranks Rhode Island's economy as the ninth best in the country. In all, Governor Raimondo's business development and real estate incentive programs will generate more than $270 million of new, net revenue for the state over the next 15 years.
The FY19 budget protects important investments in business and economic development that will help the state build on this progress. The budget includes $11 million to make the successful Real Jobs RI training program permanent. Since it was created in 2015, Real Jobs has helped connect more than 3,000 Rhode Islanders with the job training and skills training they need to compete for the jobs companies are creating.
Other job training and economic development investments in the FY19 budget include:
• Funding for the Governor's Supply RI initiative, a "buy-local" initiative that connects the state's largest employers and institutions with local suppliers and small businesses; • An extension of the Governor's various real estate development programs that have supported an estimated 7,000 construction jobs since 2016. The projects supported by these programs have generated an additional $2 billion of private investment in Rhode Island and will add nearly $775 million to the state economy each year; • A continuation of the Wavemaker Fellowship program that has helped more than 425 STEM graduates stay in Rhode Island after graduation. In 2017, the State Science & Technology Institute heralded the Wavemaker Fellowship as the nation's "Most Promising Initiative"; and • Preservation of the Qualified Jobs Incentive tax credit initiative that has helped 27 companies move to or expand in Rhode Island, supporting more than 3,000 jobs.
The budget also supports a $47.3 million Green Economy and Clean Water Bond that will expand Rhode Island's growing green economy. Since Governor Raimondo's taken office, Rhode Island has added more than 5,500 green jobs and recently announced a new 400-megawatt off-shore wind project with Deepwater Wind that will provide clean, renewable energy for more than 200,000 homes across Rhode Island. The Revolution Wind project will support more than 800 construction jobs and hundreds more indirect jobs.
Our Values: Protecting Our Most Vulnerable Rhode Islanders
Last year, the Administration worked with advocates and community leaders and made the difficult choices necessary to achieve $25 million of unidentified, unspecified savings required by the General Assembly. With additional revenue available this Spring, thanks to a stronger economy that's been supported by Governor Raimondo's economic development programs, this budget restores $9.5 million to support Rhode Islanders with developmental disabilities. In previous years, Governor Raimondo has led the way to increase wages for direct care workers and child care providers. The FY19 budget also increases funding for the Department of Children, Youth and Families by $18.8 million, a nine percent increase compared to last year.
Other investments in the FY19 budget include:
• Funding that will give low-income, working parents peace of mind that their children are well cared for. The new tiered reimbursement model will reward child care providers for achieving certain BrightStars quality standards; • Funding to allow young people in foster care to voluntarily remain in care until they turn 21, providing them with the opportunity to remain in stable housing while they enroll in college, participate in job training or begin a career; • $1.1 million of new funding to increase reimbursements for foster families. This is the second increase Governor Raimondo has made. Before her swearing in, the last time Rhode Island raised foster family reimbursements was 2001; and • $800,000 to double support for Rhode Island's seniors by doubling funding for senior centers.