Gina Raimondo

On Tuesday, two Rhode Island House committees will take another close look at Governor Gina Raimondo’s proposed budgets for Medicaid and the state’s health and human services agency. The Senate heard similar proposals last week.

The hearings offer another opportunity for public testimony and committee members’ questions before the budgets hit the full House and Senate for consideration.

State revenue is up, the Sox are down, and Friday is here. So thanks for stopping by for my weekly column. Your tips and thoughts are welcome at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org, and you can follow me all week-long on the twitters. Here we go.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

College of the Holy Cross professor Victor Matheson, a sports economist, says the economic benefits of the PawSox’ proposed Providence ballpark do not justify a large commitment of public dollars. Matheson spoke Wednesday morning during an event sponsored by the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Governor Gina Raimondo said the increase of more than $140 million in state revenue identified during last Friday's revenue estimating conference should be used "to invest in economic growth and putting people to work." The governor also appears to have joined with House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello in supporting the elimination of the Taylor Swift tax.

The time for raking snow from the roof has given way to the delights of spring and inevitable complaints about heat and humidity. The General Assembly session is headed to busier times and other big issues are simmering. So thanks for stopping by. Feel free to drop me comments and tips at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org, and to follow me on the twitters.


A new poll shows that Rhode Islanders expect stronger political leadership over the next few years, although many still feel the state is going in the wrong direction. The poll was commissioned by the Hassenfeld Institute for Public Leadership at Bryant University.

43 percent of respondents say the state is going in the wrong direction. Yet 54 percent expect elected officials to provide strong leadership moving forward.

For Rhode Island’s top problem, 30 percent of respondents cite job opportunities, 19 percent point to taxes, and 14 percent identify corruption.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Governor Gina Raimondo said Tuesday she's unsure if the Pawtucket Red Sox proposal to move to Providence will be decided -- as the team's ownership hopes -- before the end of the General Assembly session.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Governor Gina Raimondo and House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello cited a message of collaboration as they lent their support Tuesday to a job development-tax credit bill sponsored by state Representative Joseph Shekarchi (D-Warwick).

The month of May is here, bringing a heightened focus on Gina Raimondo's proposed budget and the PawSox proposal. So thanks for stopping by, and feel free to share your tips & thoughts at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org, and to follow me on the twitters. Here we go.

Federal Wildlife Service

A push to legalize marijuana – once again – has returned to the Statehouse.  RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay parses what has become a perennial issue.

Except for speeding on Rhode Island’s roads, is there a law more frequently scoffed at by citizens than the ban on recreational use of marijuana?
As the General Assembly again tackles the prickly issue of legalizing marijuana, it is well beyond the time for rigorous study of a policy that too often devolves into cliché and anecdotal opinion.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Today is the due date for a plan to cut nearly $180 million dollars from Medicaid. Half of that is state funding, the other matching federal dollars. To close a burgeoning state budget gap, Gov. Gina Raimondo has proposed cutting hospital and nursing home payments. Her “Reinvent Medicaid” task force delivers its recommendations today for finding the rest of the savings in the state’s health insurance program for the poor. Their proposals are aimed at reducing the cost of caring for some of the most complex patients.

Patients like Juana Kollie.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

State lawmakers heard testimony Wednesday about a proposed tax on health insurance to pay for the state’s online health insurance exchange, HealthSource RI.

Federal Obamacare money covered the startup cost of HealthSource RI – the state’s marketplace for individual and small business insurance plans. But now Rhode Island must come up with the money to keep it going, or turn it over to the feds. Gov. Gina Raimondo’s budget proposal includes a tax on every individual and small business health plan – whether bought on the exchange or not – to pay for HealthSource RI.

Elisabeth Harrison

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo is praising the state’s Board of Education for approving new regulations that allow qualified students to do college-level coursework while they are still in high school.

The Governor had sought that approval, saying it is a step toward creating Prepare RI, the jobs plan initiative Raimondo has proposed to allow students to finish professional certifications or college degrees more quickly.

$1.3 million for this program is included in the governor’s proposed budget.

The owner of the Victory Place parcel near Davol Square, JAG Investment Realty, on Tuesday suggested the site as an alternative location for creating a stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Boston Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino, a managing partner of the Pawtucket Red Sox, was in Rhode Island to speak with the 195 District Commission Monday about the PawSox's proposal for a new stadium in ballpark. Lucchino sat down with me ahead of the commission's meeting to discuss the proposal.