House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello is applauding plans by state police to speak with lawmakers about a 2010 vote that set the stage for 38 Studios to come to Rhode Island. A Job Creation Guaranty Program approved by the legislature was later used to channel $75 million to the ill-fated video game company.
Mattiello says he thinks an ongoing state police investigation will yield answers on the "debacle" involving Rhode Island’s losing investment in 38 Studios. Mattiello was a Cranston rep in 2010 when the House approved a job program meant to spark Rhode Island’s economy. He faults the state agency then known as the Economic Development Corporation for tapping the program for a $75 million loan guaranty to lure 38 Studios to Rhode Island.
“It was a good act that could have served a very good purpose, and the EDC misapplied it," Mattiello says. "As far as me having any indication that 38 Studios was contemplated and that the 75 million in that act was going to 38 Studios, I will say that I knew nothing about it.”
38 Studios went bankrupt in 2012, leaving Rhode Island taxpayers on the hook for about 90 million dollars. The state budget approved earlier this week includes $12.3 million dollars to continue paying back 38 Studios’ investors.
Although former House speaker Gordon Fox was part of a small group of people who led the way for 38 Studios to come to Rhode Island, he denied in 2012 that the Job Creation Guarantee Program was built for the company. Fox abruptly resigned the speakership after state and federal law enforcement raided his home and Statehouse office March 21, as part of a yet-to-be explained investigation.