Gina Raimondo is set to take the office as the first female governor after winning the general election last week. With less than two months to go before she assumes office, Rhode Island Public Radio asked leaders in fields from education to the environment to share their hopes and advice for the Governor-elect.
ELIZABETH BURKE BRYANT director, Rhode Island Kids Count
Having healthy safe well-educated children is a core part of Rhode Island’s future prosperity. Focus on children and families in terms of closing the achievement gap, finishing the job, and covering all kids with health insurance. And making sure we have the best child welfare system or DCYF in the country.
JOHN TORGAN director, ocean and coastal conservation at The Nature Conservancy
Embrace and safeguard Rhode Island’s outstanding natural assets: from the land, to the rivers, to Narragansett Bay, the islands and the ocean; as the foundation of our economy, our culture, and our history, and our identity as the ocean state. These places define us. They inspire us, and they are what make us great.
MIKE SOUSA president, Hospital Association Of Rhode Island
Address the healthcare system with a focus on care coordination, quality, and delivery reform, so that we can control the costs of healthcare for the state, and small businesses. We can’t push business in Rhode Island, and grow it if we have extremely high healthcare costs.
NEIL STEINBERG president and CEO, The Rhode Island Foundation
Lead with urgency and inclusiveness in order to get Rhode Islanders back to work. Balance this short term priority with a sustainable plan and focus to better educate all of our students, improve training to close skill gaps, invest in innovation to grow existing and new companies, and commit to accessible and affordable quality healthcare in Rhode Island.
JIM VINCENT president, NAACP Providence
Create an administration that is reflective of the population here in Rhode Island. 25 percent of the population is people of color, so it would be great to have at least 25 percent of the department heads, and commissioners, as well as boards and commissions be reflective of the state’s population.
RAY DIPASQUALE president, CCRI
Stay true to who you are. We pledge our support to you towards making this state an economic engine; working with you to help our young people in the state get the degrees that they need.
JIM RYCZEK executive director, Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless
Fulfill your campaign promise to fully fund Opening Doors; our state’s strategic plan to end homelessness. We stand with the governor-elect in a vision of a state of Rhode Island that refuses to let any man, woman, or child be homeless.
JONATHAN STONE executive director, Save the Bay Rhode Island
The Department of Environmental Management is charged with protecting our most precious resource: Narragansett Bay. Provide the DEM with the resources and political backing it needs to do its job. Business owners and individual citizens alike deserve predictable and timely review of permit applications, and consistent enforcement of environmental laws.
ANNA CANO-MORALES director, Latino Policy Institute
Latinos are the fastest growing demographic in the state and in the nation. In Rhode Island, with a median age of 26, they are undereducated, underpaid, undervalued and misunderstood. When growing jobs in Rhode Island, don’t forget this talented, entrepreneurial, and diverse group of people. Latinos have been floating the state’s population for years, and now is the time for us to be fully integrated into the economic development plans of our home state.
BERT CRENCA artistic director/founder, AS220
Inaugurate a design-based curriculum from grammar school all the way through high school; thus creating a culture of problem solvers. Double or triple the state arts council’s budget. We have to value this. The investments in art and culture in comparison to so many of the other things we attempt to invest in have tremendous return.
JOHN HAZEN WHITE JR. president, TACO Industries
Increase the tax base to help cover our tax burden. There are two ways to do this. Lower the sales tax to be competitive with our neighboring states, and fix the estate tax because this is keeping people away and driving people out. Very best of luck.