Political news

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza is slated to deliver his first budget address Wednesday. The capital city is facing a sizeable deficit.

The budget hole could be as large as $23 million. That’s a lot less than the deficit former Mayor Angel Taveras called a fiscal hurricane, but it’s still a significant gap to fill.

Mayor Jorge Elorza has pledged to cultivate broad-based economic growth, while holding the line against tax increases. Complicating the outlook is the fact that Providence needs to negotiate new contracts for teachers and municipal workers.

John Bender / RIPR

Governor Gina Raimondo marked her 100th day in office Thursday. Raimondo is taking part in several events to mark the occasion.


Along with two other appearances, Governor Raimondo is celebrating the 100th anniversary of two northern Rhode Island businesses, Yacht Club Soda and Navigant Credit Union.

Raimondo won election in November as the state’s first female governor. Since taking office, she’s dealt with severe winter weather and touted her proposed budget as a way to revitalize Rhode Island’s economy.


Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea has unveiled legislation aimed at reforming Rhode Island’s voting laws. Gorbea promised to modernize the voting system during her campaign.

The proposed legislation brings online voter registration to Rhode Island. Residents would enter a database that can be updated when people move out of town or out of state. Gorbea said that would reduce redundancies in the voter rolls.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Documents to formalize a settlement of the state pension lawsuit were filed Monday in Superior Court . The settlement faces several hurdles to be completed.

Lawyers announced in court earlier this month that most public employee unions and retirees had agreed to a proposed settlement to the legal challenge over Rhode Island’s 2011 pension overhaul. The attorneys are now following up by filing documents outlining the agreement.

RIPR file photo

Governor Gina Raimondo has signed an executive order meant to foster efficiency and innovation through a so-called lean government initiative. The governor says this will make state government more responsive to the people it serves.

The governor’s office calls lean initiatives a proven tool used by manufacturers to eliminate waste, reduce expenses, and encourage efficiency.

Raimondo says lean practices are meant to promote a workplace culture of continuous improvement. In the governor’s words, Rhode Islanders deserve a government that moves at the speed of business.


Two bills meant to discourage the misuse of campaign accounts have cleared an initial hurdle at the General Assembly.  Efforts to restore the state Ethics Commission’s oversight of the legislature continue to languish.

Legislative committees have passed a bill requiring candidates to have a separate bank account for their campaign money. Another bill would make public officeholders file an annual bank statement to back up the information in their campaign spending reports.

Candidates who’ve run for office owe a total of more than $2 million in fines to the state Board of Elections for past-due campaign reports. The board collected about $43,000 in fines last year.

Former South Kingstown State Senator Patrick McDonald owes the most – nearly $214,000 -- in the Board of Election’s newly posted list of outstanding fines. The outlook for collecting that money is considered bleak as McDonald is currently serving prison time for embezzlement.

  The state Supreme Court has agreed to consider a case involving police reports from a party hosted by the son of former governor Lincoln Chafee. The case is considered an important test of government transparency.

Aaron Read / RIPR

A House committee is slated to vote Tuesday on several bills filed after a Providence lawmaker was accused of misappropriating campaign funds. One of the bills would require officeholders to file an annual bank statement to back up information on campaign reports.

House Judiciary will also vote on bills calling for separate campaign accounts for public officeholders, and in some cases, for finance reports to be filed by someone other than the officeholder.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

A good government group is supporting a bill that would bring more transparency to the process of selecting magistrates. Magistrates perform many of the same functions of judges, but they’re selected behind closed doors.


Rhode Island has a religious freedom law that bears some similarity to an Indiana proposal, that is now raising controversy around the country. Rhode Island’s law drew little criticism when it passed more than 20 years ago.

Rhode Island ACLU director Steve Brown said Rhode Island’s religious freedom law was passed with broad support in the early 1990s. Brown said the law was a response to a US Supreme Court decision denying the right of Native Americans to use peyote in religious ceremonies.


Legislative finance committees are set to start holding hearings Tuesday on details of Governor Gina Raimondo’s first budget. The governor’s spending plan has attracted both praise and criticism.

The House and Senate finance committees stage weeks of hearings to review different aspects of the annual budget. Supporters and opponents of different programs turn out to testify, in an attempt to sway lawmakers.


Public employees in Rhode Island are scheduled to vote next week on a proposed deal to settle a lawsuit over Rhode Island’s pension overhaul.  The settlement could save the state as much as $4 billion dollars in payments to retired state employees.  It could also have benefits for union members.  Rhode Island Public Radio political reporter Ian Donnis talks details with RIPR's Elisabeth Harrison.


The House Finance Committee is slated to vote Tuesday on a bill that would clear the path for a hotel to be built at Twin River in Lincoln. The casino was banned from building a hotel as part of a law passed in 2005.

Twin River says a hotel will help it compete, as the casino faces growing competition from new gambling facilities in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Gambling is Rhode Island’s third-largest source of state revenue, and out of state casinos could cut the Ocean State’s annual revenue by up to $100 million.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Legislative leaders Thursday praised the first budget presented by Governor Gina Raimondo. House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said the spending plan avoids broad-based tax increases while promoting economic development.

“I think the overall balance is good, even though some of the decisions within that balance – whether they’re on the revenue side or the cut side – is something that none of us want to consider,” said Mattiello.