RI to hear governor's budget proposal

Jan 16, 2013

Governor Lincoln Chafee
Credit Catherine Welch

(PROVIDENCE, RI) Gov. Lincoln Chafee gives his annual state-of-the-state speech Wednesday before a joint meeting of the General Assembly. The governor is expected to discuss the state’s stalled economy in his remarks.

Rhode Island Public Radio is airing the State of the Speech live along with analysis from the political team. Coverage starts at 7 p.m.

The economy has been very much on Governor Lincoln Chafee’s mind lately. He’s hired a Pittsburgh consulting firm to analyze the state’s economic efforts and has recruited representatives from the state’s eleven colleges and universities to offer advice.  Rhode Island has had the highest unemployment rate in New England for many months. As of November, 10.4 percent of the state’s labor force was out of work.

Chafee spokeswoman, Christine Hunsinger, says he will focus on the budget and his legislative agenda.

The state faces a $69 million budget deficit. The governor has not offered a way to close the gap but has reportedly not ruled out efforts to expand the state sales tax. Ed Pacheco, chair of the state Democratic party, says he hopes the governor also addresses the economy.

"People are frustrated. I’m frustrated. We want to see Rhode Island make progress so this address for the governor is in many ways going to shape his administration for the next two years  and where he sees Rhode Island headed and the policies that will help get it there," says Pacheco, "the governor did a great job in advocating on behalf of the state to bring Jet Blue into T.F. Green. And we need more of that."

Pacheco says the governor’s comments could determine whether he gets re-elected.

House Minority Leader Brian Newberry says he hopes the governor also offers a vision to get the state out of its economic doldrums.

"I’d like to hear a plan that addresses the whole economic stagnation of Rhode Island which starts with an overhaul of our tax and regulatory structure," says Newberry. "There’s different ways of how to do it but I’d like to see something bold and new."
Other possible topics for the governor’s speech include same sex marriage and gun control.

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