2020 News & Press
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.
In an abundance of extreme caution, we are advising all Republican candidates currently campaigning for the 2020 election to suspend all in-person canvassing efforts and postpone large gatherings, such as rallies, meet ups and fundraisers.
This advisory is not something we take lightly. During this unprecedented time, the health and well-being of the communities we hope to represent need to be put ahead of all other priorities at this time.
In the meantime we encourage all of our candidates to:
- Take all necessary precautions to keep themselves and their families safe.
- Follow all guidelines put forth by the CDC and other government agencies.
- If possible, check in on your elderly neighbors.
- If healthy (and allowed depending on area), inquire with your local city/town agencies and non-profits to see if you might be of assistance in a volunteer capacity.
In an opinion column, entitled “Time to reform the JCLS is now” published this week in the Cranston Herald, Warwick Beacon and Johnston Sunrise, R.I. Republican National Committeeman Steven Frias argues for fundamentally reforming the Joint Committee on Legislative Services (JCLS), the State House’s most powerful committee.
Here are some excerpts:
Since the General Assembly hearings in 2019 on the no-bid twenty-year billion-dollar contract extension for IGT, there have been two major developments: (1) IGT and Twin River have become business partners, and (2) the issuance of a report by Christiansen Capital Advisors, LLC (CCA), which demonstrated some of the fundamental flaws in the IGT no-bid deal. The fact that IGT and Twin River are now business partners does not automatically make this deal a good one for taxpayers. CCA’s report helps show why this no-bid deal is not in the best interest of Rhode Island taxpayers.
First, CCA determined that under this no-bid deal Rhode Island taxpayers are paying $9.6 million more to IGT to manage the traditional lottery and the central computer system.1 According to IGT and the Appleseed study, IGT’s jobs directly produce only about $8.14 million in state tax revenues.2 Therefore, Rhode Island taxpayers are paying more to IGT to run the lottery and central computer system than the amount of annual direct tax revenues IGT’s jobs give to Rhode Island. Also, CCA even questioned the need for Rhode Island to have a central management system provider for video-slot machines and indicated that it “would seem prudent to explore whether all the services” currently provided by IGT “are truly necessary in 2020, and worth the expense to Rhode Island taxpayers.”3 In fiscal year 2019, Rhode Island paid IGT $13.1 million to be the central computer system provider. Simply, Rhode Island taxpayers are paying more money to IGT than it is getting for IGT’s 1,000 jobs.
According to recent news reports, former Vice President Joe Biden omitted Speaker Nicholas Mattiello from his list of endorsements by Rhode Island public officials. Furthermore, Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon, and a U.S. Senatorial candidate, returned a campaign donation from her colleague Speaker Mattiello. These public rejections of Speaker Mattiello’s support came after (1) Jeff Britt, Mattiello’s campaign consultant, was indicated for money laundering; and (2) Mattiello became the potential target of a grand jury investigation for an illegal audit of the Convention Center Authority.
R.I. Republican Party Chairman Sue Cienki commented: “While Democrats at the national level reject Speaker Mattiello’s support, Rhode Island House Democrats still continue to support Mattiello as Speaker. Some House Democrats may support the Mattiello because he has essentially bought them. Speaker Mattiello and his PAC has donated a total of $195,150 to the campaigns of current House Democrats, of which $185,400 has been donated since Mattiello became Speaker. These totals do not include Mattiello’s donations to former House Democrats like Ray Gallison, John Carnevale, Cale Keable and Lisa Tomasso. Some House Democrats are so dependent on Mattiello to finance their campaigns that their campaign accounts would be in the red but for the donations they received from Mattiello and his PAC.”
Barbara Holmes, Chair of the Rhode Island Republican Conservative Caucus, today threw her organization's support firmly behind the work of the #NoTCITax Coalition. The Coalition is a caucus of non-profits and think tanks in 12 US States and the District of Columbia which have organized to oppose a regional interstate compact known as the Transportation and Climate Initiative. "This TCI sham has been eagerly embraced by Governor Raimondo." Holmes said in a prepared statement. "In doing so our Governor has usurped the taxing authority of the Legislature and ignored the economic plight of Rhode Islanders." She concluded.
TCI is an interstate agreement which commits state governments to creating a joint fund to support 'Green Energy' projects in the region. The money is slated to come from administrative fees levied on wholesalers of petroleum motor fuels. As this additional overhead is passed along to consumers it will have the effect of a per gallon increase at the gas pump of between 5 and 17 cents. TCI proponents claim the projects funded in this way will result in a lower carbon footprint for the northeast sector of the US.
Recent news reports indicate that a state grand jury has issued subpoenas to the Convention Center Authority in relation to the illegal audit ordered by House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello. As a result, over the last three months, federal and state grand juries have issued subpoenas related to: (1) Jeff Britt’s money laundering activities in support of the Matteillo campaign; (2) taxpayer funds provided to Dr. Victor Pedro by Mattiello; and (3) an illegal audit ordered by Mattiello, allegedly in retaliation for the Convention Center’s treatment of his friend Jim Demers.
Earlier today, House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello withdrew his request for an audit of the Rhode Island Convention Center. The announcement came on the heels of a suit filed by House Republican Leader Blake Filippi alleging Speaker Mattiello of an abuse of power by ordering an illegal audit of the Rhode Island Convention Center after a friend of Mattiello was suspended by the Center.
Rhode Island Republican Party Chairman Sue Cienki commented “I applaud Leader Filippi’s efforts in this matter. It takes courage and conviction to hold the powerful accountable for their misdeeds, and he showed both of these qualities today.” Cienki concluded “Rhode Islanders are tired of the corruption and cronyism that have plagued our state for decades. Today showed that strong leadership and a will to do what’s right can combat these elements and give hope to our community for the future.”
According to a recent WPRI news report, a performance audit of the Convention Center Authority was ordered by Frank Montanaro Jr, the executive director of the Joint Committee on Legislative Services (JCLS), soon after James Demers, a friend, constituent and donor of House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, was put on administrative leave at his job at the Convention Center Authority. A performance audit of a quasi-public agency has not been performed by the Auditor General in about a decade. The JCLS has not met for many years and other members of the JCLS appear not to have been consulted on the audit.