Gina Raimondo

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Governor Gina Raimondo has ordered a complete overhaul of The Department of Children, Youth, and Families. The child welfare agency has signed tens of millions of dollars in contracts with no financial controls or oversight.

TGIF is back in the swing of RI politics after a relaxing summer break. So thanks for stopping by, and feel free to share your tips and thoughts at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org, and to follow me on the twitters. Let's dive in.

Brandon Bell, who won election in March as chairman of the Rhode Island Republican Party, joins Bonus Q+A this week to talk about the GOP outlook, Donald Trump, Governor Raimondo's job performance and much more.

Aaron Read / RIPR

Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo wants to raise the salaries of some of Rhode Island’s top state employees, a move Republican State Chairman Brandon Bell calls ``absurd.’’  RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay parses the latest dust up over state employee salaries.

There’s a Rhode Island cliché: Question: Which state worker makes too much money? Answer: Anyone who makes more than I do.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Rhode Island Republican Party Chairman Brandon Bell joins Political Roundtable this week to discuss the way forward for the GOP; Governor Raimondo's changes at the state Department of Transportation; and the governor's proposed pay hikes for the lowest-paid members of her Cabinet.

Rhode Island General Assembly

  Citing data that shows an increase in children living in poverty, Gov. Gina Raimondo has reinstated the Children’s Cabinet. The group has not met for close to a decade. It’s charged with coordinating services for children across state agencies. One of the founders of the Children’s Cabinet, former Cranston senator Thomas Izzo, says reconvening the group sends a message that child welfare matters.

“If you don’t have forceful proponents and advocates within the legislature or policymakers," said Izzo, "kids’ issues get lost very quickly.”

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Three senior transportation officials have been placed on administrative leave, but it has nothing to do with the sudden closure of the Park Avenue Bridge in Cranston, according to Governor Gina Raimondo.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Eric Hyers, who managed Governor Gina Raimondo's winning campaign last year, has signed on to pilot what is expected to be a competitive re-election fight for Montana Governor Steve Bullock.

Hyers previously led two winning races for Congressman David Cicilline, including his initial 2010 vault into Congress, as well as campaigns in Massachusetts and New Jersey.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Governor Gina Raimondo has asked a working group to come up with a way to slow health care spending in Rhode Island. It's a strategy that has showed promise in Massachusetts.

Raimondo signed an executive order to establish the Working Group for Health Care Innovation. The group’s charge is to propose a way to limit the growth in public and private health care spending. One model might be close to home. Raimondo says Massachusetts placed a cap on spending.

The annual Governor’s Bay Day is back, with free parking at Rhode Island’s state beaches on Sunday July 26th.

The day includes family-friendly attractions, including free beach parking, free saltwater fishing without a license and free Rhode Island Public Transit Authority bus rides  on all service to South County beaches on the Route 66 bus (the URI/Galilee route).

``Celebrating Governor’s Bay Day is a chance for all Rhode Islanders to enjoy our great beaches and parks,’’ said Gov. Gina Raimondo in a statement.

Aaron Read

Rhode Island’s unemployment rate  inched down to 5.9 percent in June, the lowest level since 2007, the state Department of Labor and Training has announced.

The rate has dropped 1.8 percentage points since June, 2014, when it was 7.7 percent.  The level in May was 6.0 percent. Rhode Island’s jobless rate is still above the national average, which was 5.3 percent in June, six-tenths of a percent lower than in the Ocean State.

In a statement, Gov. Gina Raimondo lamented that Rhode Island is not recovering from the recession as fast as the rest of the country.

Raimondo Signs Bill Aimed At Police, Race Relations

Jul 14, 2015
Katherine Doherty

Governor Gina Raimondo has signed legislation that requires local police departments to collect and report data on race and traffic stops. The data must be submitted to the State Department of Transportation each year.

State Representative Joseph Almeida (D-Providence), who has been trying to get similar legislation passed since 1999, said the bill represents one step towards addressing Civil Rights issues in the state.

John Bender / RIPR

Rhode Island’s Board of Education has unanimously confirmed Ken Wagner to lead the state department in charge of K-12 schools. Wagner has his work cut out for him when it comes to teachers. Many are hoping that he will reach out to them after they clashed with his predecessor. 

John Bender / RIPR

Rhode Island may have a new education commissioner as of Monday Evening. The Board of Education convenes for a vote on nominee Dr. Ken Wagner.

Wagner is governor Gina Raimondo’s pick to lead the state’s K through 12 education system, following the departure of Deborah Gist. He comes to Rhode Island from New York State where he was deputy education commissioner. His background also includes time as a middle school principal and a school psychologist.

John Bender / RIPR

Dr. Ken Wagner, Governor Gina Raimondo’s pick for state Education Commissioner, spent Thursday morning at Calcutt Middle School in Central Falls. It was his first site visit since his nomination’s announcement Wednesday. The students demonstrated to Wagner how to operate bottle rockets.

Wagner finishes up as New York Deputy Education commissioner Friday, and says his post in Rhode Island would begin in August.