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Sun January 12, 2003
Broad Support For New Governor
By Martha Bebinger
Providence – Donald Carcieri became governor of Rhode Island Tuesday with strong support from many sectors, including backers of his election rival.
"I'm excited. I think we've put together a good team and
lets get on with it," said Governor Carcieri.
That means a separation of powers bill the governor planned to unveil before the end of the week and a legislative package including tax cuts to attract investment and businesses to Rhode Island. Carcieri also plans a reorganization of state government.
"You're going to see, you're going to have to see significant change. We've got to figure out a way to combine some things because the only way we're going to free the fesources to invest in the things we need is to do that," the Governor said.
Business leaders are welcoming the Carcieri administration and the new leadership of the general assembly with great enthusiasm.
"I think its wonderful. The energy level, the commitment with the House and Senate all focused on the right thing, economic development. I'm very optimistic about a group that will work together," said CVS Chief Executive Officer Thomas Ryan.
An emphasis on economic development sometimes triggers fears among environmentalists, but that does not appear to be the reaction to Carcieri so far. Save the Bay's Topher Hamblett says the Governor talks frequently about his love for the Narragansett Bay and it's importance for the quality of life in Rhode Island. Hamblett says the key issue environmentalists will lobby for this session is adequate for adequate funding for the Department of Environmental Management.
"We're concerned that any more erosion of DEM's capacity will be very bad for the environment and for public health and I don't think business will want DEM eroded even further," said Hamblett
As Carcieri has moved from candidate, to governor elect to governor, he has won over foes.
"My first meeting with him was like wow!" said House Majority Leader Gordon Fox, who campaigned for Carcieri rival Myrth York. Fox said Carcieri talked about helping families that need better jobs and affordable housing, "And then he hits me with an urban strategy, reinvest in our cities as drivers of our economy and I start thinking, either I'm thinking like a Republican or this Republican has a lot of our themes that he wants to share."
Teachers union leaders, many of whom supported York said that they are pleasantly surprised to hear Carcieri pledge an increased investment in education as well as hands on involvement. He says, for example, that the state should get involved in improved training and better incentives for school principals.
In human services, several advocates said they are cautiously optimistic about the new administration. Director of the Poverty Institute at Rhode Island College Nancy Gewirtz said she is not opposed to Carcieri's tax cuts
As long as there is evidence that they translate to job creation. The test, said Gewirtz, will be Carcieri's support for child care, health care and education subsidies that help single mothers get off, or stay off welfare.
"What we're looking to see is whether he'll maintain the income supports, works supports and whether he'll undo some of the damage that's been done," she said.