2020 News & Press
Rhode Island House Republicans earlier today called for an immediate reconvening of the House Oversight Committee in a letter to Committee Chairwoman Patricia Serpa, outlining numerous issues and polices of concern during the State of Emergency Declaration by Governor Gina Raimondo. The letter, signed unanimously by the House Minority Caucus was sent electronically to Chairwoman Serpa, Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, Leader Joseph K. Shekarchi and all members of the House Oversight Committee on Tuesday, April 21, 2020.
On April 7, 2020, the R.I. State Properties Committee approved a $1.81 million-dollar six-month lease with the Carpionato Group and a $100,000 month-to-month lease with the R.I. Commerce Corporation to be used as field hospitals. Then on April 15, the R.I. State Properties Committee approved a $3.96 million-dollar six-month lease for the Convention Center to be used as a field hospital. The very next day, on April 16, after weeks of refusing to disclose Rhode Island’s coronavirus forecasting model, Governor Gina Raimondo disclosed that hospitalizations from the coronavirus would likely peak around 2,250 on May 3rd. Just two days later, on April 18, Raimondo admitted that she did not expect Rhode Island to have over 2,000 hospitalizations in early May.
Today the R.I. Board of Elections is meeting to consider suspending election laws for the upcoming Presidential Preference Primary (PPP) election on June 2, 2020. According to prior news reports, the R.I. Board of Elections has voted to suspend various election laws requiring mail ballot envelopes to be signed by witnesses or public notaries. In response, the R.I. Republican Party has filed comments with the Board of Elections expressing its opposition and objection to the suspension of laws designed to safeguard the integrity of elections.
Here are excerpts from these Comments:
Charles Callanan announced his candidacy for State Senate District 35 for the towns of East Greenwich, Narragansett, North Kingstown, and South Kingstown. His mission is to bring honest, fiscally accountable leadership to Rhode Island for the November 3, 2020 election.
Charles Callanan, the former active duty Naval Officer turned entrepreneur, is looking to bring his extensive leadership and management skills to fight decades of abuse burdening taxpayers in the district. The campaign will target Senate District 35 to provide a new level of fiscal accountability, push back against the status quo of pandering to municipal unions, and wasteful spending at all levels of government. The always outspoken Callanan has always made his stance quite clear on politicians who enrich themselves and their supporters as a result of public service.
We are experiencing an extraordinary time. The COVID-19 pandemic has captured headlines and infected and killed people throughout the world. It has forced schools and colleges to operate online, cancelled events, disrupted travel plans and relocated workers to home. This pandemic knows no party lines, demographics or generations, we are all in this together.
We may have our disagreements, and our personal ideologies sway our thoughts on how best to navigate this crisis. It’s important though, that we all calmly exhibit reason and logic in our discourse. We must remember in this time more than ever, that we are all working toward the same goal, a return to normalcy.
Let us take this time to recognize and be thankful to those that are working on the front lines of this crisis. Our healthcare workers deserve all the thoughts and prayers we can send their way. So do the unsung heroes at our essential businesses, the cashiers at our supermarkets, the delivery drivers of our restaurants and everyone putting themselves at risk to provide us with the necessities of life.
On behalf of the Rhode Island Republican Party, I would like to thank our state and local officials for their efforts to keep Rhode Island residents safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the dynamic nature of this situation, there are many priorities being juggled and new responsibilities being taken by many. This leads to the strong possibility of oversight and error. With this in mind, I’m asking the League of Cities and Towns as well as Governor Raimondo to urge all forms of Rhode Island government to temporarily suspend any and all tax foreclosures.
In this time of social distancing and stay-at-home orders, we certainly do not want the working families of Rhode Island displaced from their places of residence. Furthermore, our small business owners are already facing monumental challenges due to this pandemic. To seize their property for non-payment of taxes during this time would be catastrophic to our local economy.
Rhode Island House and Senate Republicans are calling for an immediate continuity of legislative operations plan from Governor Raimondo, Speaker Mattiello and Senate President Ruggerio. The letter, signed unanimously by both House and Senate Minority Caucuses was sent electronically to all General Assembly members on Sunday, March 29, 2020.
At the request of Governor Gina Raimondo, the Disaster Emergency Funding Board has voted to authorize the state to borrow $300 million from private sector entities. General Treasurer Seth Magaziner explained that this debt will be in the form of an “appropriation pledge” and will have about a 3 percent annual interest rate. Treasurer Magaziner also indicated that Rhode Island’s Rainy-Day Fund of approximately $200 million is nearly exhausted. Furthermore, projections were presented showing Rhode Island could have a deficit of about $200 million by the end of the fiscal year.
R.I. Republican Party Chairwoman Sue Cienki commented: “There are three points that need to addressed here. First, by borrowing up to $300 million through an appropriation pledge, the Disaster Emergency Funding Board appears to be circumventing our state’s constitutional debt restrictions. A legally non-binding appropriation pledge is comparable to a moral obligation. Because we are circumventing the constitution, Rhode Island will pay a higher interest rate. An interest rate of about 3 percent for short term government debt is undoubtedly higher than the cost of debt using the full faith and credit of the State of Rhode Island. For example, paying an interest rate of three percent is similar to the fixed interest rate on a fifteen-year mortgage. Simple lesson here: when you circumvent the constitution, you pay more.”
At the request of Governor Gina Raimondo, the Disaster Emergency Funding Board is meeting to potentially authorize the state to borrow $300 million from private sector entities. The Disaster Emergency Funding Board consists of four members: House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, Senate President, Dominick Ruggerio, Senate Finance Committee Chairman William Conley and House Finance Committee Chairman Marvin Abney. The Rhode Island’s Constitution (Article 6, Section 16, Section 17, and Section 21) places significant restrictions on the ability to incur debt without voter general. At this time, Rhode Island’s Rainy-Day Fund is approximately $200 million.
In this unprecedented time, when terms like "social distancing" have become the new normal, it is paramount that we first take all necessary precautions to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. It is also important to be mindful of all the ripple effects that COVID-19 will cause to our community beyond health, especially our small businesses here in Rhode Island. As taking reasonable precautions are necessary and social distancing becomes more commonplace, many restaurants, stores and service providers are being severely impacted.
There are a few ways you can support our local small businesses while still keep yourself and your family safe while social distancing.
- Many local restaurants are now offering "curbside" pick-up at their locations. Also many restaurants who did not previously are now offering delivery service.
- Local retailers are making a push to sell gift cards to be used at a later date. These small purchases can have an impact on business owners working capital during this time.
- Many local businesses can provide you services remotely, over the phone, via email or on their website.