Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, a Republican candidate for governor, wants to limit state lawmakers to five two-year terms, create an office of inspector general, and institute the use of photo IDs for food benefits and add work requirements for able-bodied people receiving welfare.
The concepts are part of a government reform package unveiled by Fung's campaign Thursday through a news release. The subject line: "Fung is Ready to Bulldoze Smith Hill."
“It takes someone from outside the marble dome to shake things up and right the ship here in Rhode Island, and that’s why I want to be your next governor,” Fung said in a statement.
Fung has served as Cranston's mayor since first winning election in 2008, and he lost a close race to Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo in 2014.
The other GOP candidates for governor are House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan (R-West Warwick), who unveiled her first detailed policy statement Wednesday, and businessman Giovanni Feroce, who faces fallout from missing a recent court appearance.
Fung's proposal covers three areas. For government structure, he calls for limiting state lawmakers to five consecutive two-year terms. While term limits have gained some popularity in recent decades, proposals to institute them have gone nowhere at the Statehouse and the concept remains a tough sell among the Democrats who hold super-majorities in the House and Senate.
The Cranston mayor said it's time to pass a line-item veto bill for the governor. Like Morgan, wants to create an office of inspector general.
"We are going to create the Office of the Inspector General, with the authority to investigate fraud, waste, abuse, and corruption in all three branches of Rhode Island’s state government," Fung said. "In addition to investigating, they’ll be given the authority to assess policy & process weaknesses, recommended improvements, and provide training."
On social services, Fung said he would require photo IDs for people receiving EBT food assistance. He would also require any able-bodied person between 18 and 59 to work, take part in a job training program or perform at least 20 hours of community service a week to get welfare benefits.
"Exemptions would be proposed for anyone with a chronically ill child, a parent with a dependent child under the age of 5, or those with acute medical issues," Fung said. "I am also aware that this system can’t be put into place until the state has a functional UHIP system, and fixing Raimondo’s debacle will be one of our first priorities."
Finally, Fung said he will propose a ban on a ballot appearance by anyone who owes outstanding fines to the state Board of Elections. He said that as of March, the board is owed $3.6 million in fines, with eight people each owing more than $100,000 for late campaign finance reports. Fung also wants to require a display of a photo ID for anyone seeking to fill out an emergency ballot at City Hall.
In a statement, David Ortiz, the deputy campaign manager for Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo, called Fung "a Trump candidate."
"President Trump is making a big push to slash support for the most vulnerable people in America by expanding work requirements in the nation's social safety net, and it’s no surprise Mayor Fung is making Trump’s proposal here in Rhode Island," Ortiz said. "Mayor Fung won’t admit it but he’s a Trump candidate. He supported President Trump in 2016 and has continued to support him. He has not stood up to Trump and if elected, would stand with Trump, not with the people of Rhode Island."
Ortiz said Raimondo has put Rhode Island on track to achieve more than $100 million in annual Medicaid savings "without cutting eligibility and without reducing benefits for Rhode Islanders in need."
"It’s about time that Mayor Fung voice his support for Governor Raimondo’s push for the line-item veto and campaign finance reform," Ortiz said. "For three years, the governor has pushed for the line-item veto. For the second year in a row, she is calling on the legislature to pass a law that keeps candidates with large unpaid campaign finance fines from running for office."
This post has been updated.