Economic Progress institute

Kate Brewster, executive director and co-founder of the Economic Progress Institute, is leaving the low-income advocacy and research group after 11 years to become executive director of the Jonnycake Center of Peace Dale, which provides food and clothing to needy local residents in South County while also engaging in policy initiatives and advocacy.

``It is with tremendous mixed emotions that I leave the institute, an organization that has had a lasting and profound impact on the ability of Rhode Islanders to make ends meet,’’ said Brewster in a statement.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Today is the due date for a plan to cut nearly $180 million dollars from Medicaid. Half of that is state funding, the other matching federal dollars. To close a burgeoning state budget gap, Gov. Gina Raimondo has proposed cutting hospital and nursing home payments. Her “Reinvent Medicaid” task force delivers its recommendations today for finding the rest of the savings in the state’s health insurance program for the poor. Their proposals are aimed at reducing the cost of caring for some of the most complex patients.

Patients like Juana Kollie.


Rhode Island has long been engaged in a debate about government benefits for the poor. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay says our state isn’t as generous as most other New England states on helping those with less.

House Speaker Nick Mattiello, D-Cranston has heard the complaints for years from conservatives and some elements of the business community:  That Rhode Island’s overly generous social welfare programs handcuff taxpayers and harm the state’s business climate.

The first public meeting about Gov. Gina Raimondo’s plans for Medicaid, the health care program for the poor, is scheduled for tonight in Woonsocket. Over the course of four such town hall meetings, organizers hope to gather ideas for saving the program millions of dollars as well as improving services.

The Economic Progress Institute’s Linda Katz is a member of Raimondo’s Medicaid working group.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

The four Democrats running for governor mostly agreed with one another on a host of issues during a forum Monday sponsored by a liberal think tank, the Economic Progress Institute. The issues included jobs, safety net programs, and taxes.

The Democratic candidates for governor are slated to discuss a series of economic issues during a forum this evening in Warwick. The event comes with just about five months until the September 9th primary election.

Democrats Angel Taveras, Gina Raimondo and Clay Pell are expected for the 5 pm candidates’ forum at the Ocean State Theatre Company in Warwick. The discussion is being sponsored by a liberal think tank, the Economic Progress Institute.

Aaron Read / RIPR

About 4500 parents who used to have health insurance through RIte Care, the state’s Medicaid program, will have to reapply for insurance if they want to remain covered after the end of the month. The biggest concern is that the poorest Rhode Islanders may not be able to afford it.

Some of the lowest-income Rhode Islanders may be losing their health insurance coverage or paying a bit more for it by the end of this month.

The U.S. Census Bureau’s latest data contain mixed signals about the state of Rhode Island’s economy.   The median income climbed by double digits but the state still has the highest poverty rate in the region.

While Rhode Island’s median household income climbed 14 percent from 2011 to 2012, the state remained stuck with the highest poverty rate in New England. Thirteen-point-six percent of all residents are living below the federal poverty level. Second is Maine at 12.8 percent.

Kristin Gourlay

Rhode Island has a poverty rate of 14%, according to a scorecard from the Corporation for Enterprise Development, a national think-tank.

The Economic Progress  Institute of Rhode Island holds  its annual policy conference Thursday to tackle the complex issue of poverty in the Ocean State.  Rhode Island Public Radio's Elisabeth Harrison sits down with that organization’s executive director, Kate Brewster.

The business community is applauding a proposed cut in Rhode Island’s corporate tax rate.

In his latest budget, Governor Lincoln Chafee calls for cutting the corporate tax from 9 to 7 percent over three years.

Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce head Laurie White calls that a smart move. “It would be a welcome change. It’s not a game-changer. There are lots of factors that contribute to positive business climate rankings and profile, but this is certainly a welcome step.”

Sen. Reed bill will Hike Minimum Wage

Mar 6, 2013

Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed is supporting a bill that would increase the federal minimum wage over the next three years.

The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25.  The so-called “Federal Wage Act” would increase that wage by 95 cents annually until it reaches $10.10 by 2015.

However the buying power of minimum wage has decreased significantly, and the new boost may not be enough in Rhode Island, says Kate Brewster, the executive director of The Economic Progress Institute.