“Let’s keep going,” Governor Gina Raimondo said, at least eight times, in her 2018 State of the State speech. A tailor-made message for an incumbent governor facing re-election, it was clearly the theme of her speech – she even highlighted every utterance of the phrase in the public text of her speech in the House Chamber of the State House Tuesday night.
Raimondo touted paid sick time, better job training, and her free community college tuition program as reasons Rhode Island should “keep going.” She highlighted both her business recruitment strategies and incremental increases in the minimum wage, as well. She didn’t mention how much her policy of wooing businesses to Rhode Island through tax incentives has cost, estimated to be about $130 million 10 months ago, or how much the minimum wage has increased, from $9.60 to $10.10.
“We’ve come a long way, but we’re only in about the third inning of our economic comeback,” Raimondo said, noting Rhode Island now boasts the 18th strongest economy in the nation. “And we’re not stopping until we’re at the top of the list,” she proclaimed to loud applause.
Her biggest ovation of the evening came not when she mentioned a program she hopes to continue, but one she hopes to help launch this year.
“Let’s make a once-in-a-generation investment in our schools,” Raimondo said to loud and sustained applause from the legislators who will likely vote on a $250 million in school construction spending later in the session.
“Together with our cities and towns, let’s commit to investing $1 billion over the next five years to fix our public schools,” Raimondo said. “Don’t let anyone tell you we can’t afford to do this. We can. We have a detailed plan that outlines how we can invest more and do it smarter so that we protect taxpayers at the same time.”
The governor also said she would like to see a line item veto go before the voters of Rhode Island, a proposal that didn’t get the same warm reception from legislators as did school spending. The line item veto would give the governor new powers over the annual state budget.
While Raimondo didn’t mention the UHIP fiasco that has kept thousands of poor people from receiving social services, she did mention helping people in poverty.
“My fellow Rhode Islanders, we’re making real progress,” she said. “But our work is far from done because the recovery still hasn’t reached everyone. And we’re not going to stop until every Rhode Islander is included. We’ll keep going until every child is lifted out of poverty; until every child can attend a flourishing public school; until we meet the needs of every senior; and until every Rhode Islander has a shot at a good job.”
People love Rhode Island, Raimondo concluded by saying, “not because it’s perfect, but because of the people — people who wake up every morning determined to make Rhode Island better. They love it for the same reason we all do. Because it’s home.”