On Monday June 24th, the petition against the 38 Studios bailout will be brought to the State House for a ceremonial delivery. So far, over 1,000 Rhode Islanders have signed the petition, and the number continues to grow. The petition delivery will be at 4:15pm sharp, at the Smith Street entrance to the State House.
The current 38 Studios bailout is unpopular, as the 38 Studios deal was from the beginning. Although the petition against the bailout was put together by Occupy Providence, which has been protesting against the planned 38 Studios bailout for over a year, there are many other groups opposing the bailout across the political spectrum. The libertarian-leaning Stephen Hopkins Center for Civil Rights and Occupy Providence jointly sponsored a debate about the bailout (available on video). Although many of the leading bailout advocates were invited to appear on the debate panel – Gov. Lincoln Chafee, Treasurer Gina Raimondo, the RI Economic Development Corporation, and Moody’s bond-rating agency – none chose to take part in this open debate, although they are frequently quoted in the media where they don’t have to confront the arguments of leading bailout opponents. Now, even those who have sympathy for the bailout have been pointing out that the case for a bailout is problematic.
Rhode Islanders who oppose the bailout can sign the petition and, if they like, attend the State House petition delivery rally at 4:15 Monday. The RI House will be voting soon on a budget that includes 38 Studios bailout money, but many state legislators are committed to voting against the budget until the bailout money is removed. State House leaders traditionally try to finalize everything about the budget in one night’s marathon House session, and that session is scheduled for this Tuesday. However, the 38 Studios bailout is unusually contentious and controversial, involving years of major expenses, and whatever happens in Tuesday’s session, there is a good chance that Rhode Islanders will be continuing to fight this bailout well past Tuesday. The online petition will remain open for signatures during and after this year’s budget process.