Political news


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.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

A top legislative Republican praised Governor Gina Raimondo for expressing an optimistic message in her budget address last night. But Foster Representative Michael Chippendale said the state GOP also has a number of concerns about Raimondo’s spending plan.

“While it was stated that there were no broad-based tax increases, we do see some that we do not find particularly attractive, particularly the HealthSource Rhode Island example,” said Chippendale.

The state Retirement Board is slated Wednesday to consider revoking a pension for a former legislative leader convicted of corruption. Gerard Martineau was sentenced to more than three years in prison for his crimes.

Martineau pleaded guilty in 2008 to charges that he used his influence to help the CVS drug store chain and Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island while doing hundreds of thousands of dollars in business with them. Martineau, a Woonsocket Democrat served 15 years in the House, rising to the number two position of majority leader.

Aaron Read / RIPR

The non-partisan good government group Common Cause isn’t satisfied with a reform measure backed by House leaders in the aftermath of Gordon Fox’s guilty plea earlier this year.

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello says it makes sense for officeholders to file their bank statements for their campaign accounts with the state agency that monitors campaign spending.

John Bender

Reactions have been swift to news that Former House Speaker Gordon Fox pleaded guilty to three felony charges.

The charges include one count of bribery and one count of misusing campaign funds.

Rhode Island Public Radio’s Elisabeth Harrison reports on reaction from both sides of the aisle.

Calling it a "sad chapter" in Rhode Island Politics, House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said in a brief statement, "there is no place for public corruption."

A Democrat, Mattiello took over after Fox resigned as speaker, following raids on his home and Statehouse office.

State Representative Joseph Shekarchi (D-Warwick) joins Bonus Q&A to talk about the way forward for Governor Gina Raimondo; the outlook on the state pension case and the PawSox; why he has such a large campaign war chest; and more.


Rhode Island’s U.S. Senators are offering lukewarm support of President Barack Obama’s request to use military force against Islamic State militants. The President has asked for military action, unbounded by national borders that could last up to three years.

Senator Jack Reed, the ranking Democrat in the Senate Armed Services Committee said President Obama’s plan for military intervention is overdue.  In a statement he calls the plan, a thoughtful proposal, but said Congress must  “refine” the President’s request. 

State Representative Joseph Almeida put out a brief statement Wednesday in response to charges he illegally pocketed campaign funds for personal use.

The Providence democrat maintained his innocence, indicating he has no intention of stepping down from his house seat.

"As I move forward, my focus will be on representing the hard-working people of my district." Almeida said. "I respect the legal process and I maintain my innocence as this matter is adjudicated in court."

Maureen Moakley

On the heels of President Barack Obama’s announcement to restore diplomacy with Cuba, University of Rhode Island professor Maureen Moakley took a group of students to Havana to see first-hand the political and social changes 50 years after the Cuban revolution. A regular contributor to our Political Roundtable Moakley spoke spoke with Rhode Island Public Radio's Elisabeth Harrison.

Do you have insight or expertise on this topic? Please email us, we'd like to hear from you. news@ripr.org


U.S. Senator Jack Reed is calling for additional military assistance to help the Ukrainian government as fighting worsens with Russian-backed separatists. Reed is the ranking Democrat of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Reed and Armed Services Committee Chair Senator John McCain, are asking the Obama administration to commit to aid in the form of defensive weaponry.  That includes things like anti-tank weapons, and rocket locating radar systems. 

Developer and former Providence mayor Joseph Paolino joins Bonus Q&A to discuss snow removal; how Providence can cultivate more tax revenue; what's next for the Superman Building; and more.


A bill that would increase Rhode Island's minimum wage is set to go before the House Labor Committee Thursday.  The bill would push the state's minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.