Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed sat down prior to the start of the new General Assembly session to discuss top issues facing the state, including the economy; the growing cost of paying back investors in 38 Studios, Sakonnet River Bridge tolls, voter ID, and more.
The Political Roundtable crew looks back at the top political stories of the year, including the race governor; the implementation of Obamacare in Rhode Island; the Ocean State's persistently high unemployment; and the emerging legacy of Lincoln Chafee.
The hours are dwindling to Christmas and the annual shopping frenzy is on.
Rhode Island Public Radio political analyst Scott MacKay says we should shop local to support the Rhode Island the Rhode Island economy, and details what Congress can do to help.
Scott MacKay’s commentary can be heard at 6:35 and 8:35 every Monday on Morning Edition and at 5:50 on All Things Considered. You can also follow his political reporting and analysis at our ‘On Politics’ blog at ripr.org.
October was another good month for home sales in Rhode Island.
The sale of single family homes in Rhode Island rose 19 percent between October 2012 and October 2013. During the same time frame the median price rose from $200,000 to $204,000. Sales of condos rose 11 percent over the year and the median price is up 17 percent.
Rhode Island Association of Realtors president Robert Martin said growth in the housing market is slow and steady with no negatives.
The Rhode Island Community Food Bank is out with its annual report on hunger. It shows the recession is still playing a very large role in the lives of Ocean State residents.
The Rhode Island Community Food Bank is now serving 68-thousand people a month, up three percent from a year ago and an all-time high. At the same time, food donations are down by nearly two million pounds, said Food Bank CEO Andrew Schiff.
The latest employment numbers for Rhode Island are a mixed bag.
The state’s unemployment rate ticked up one-tenth of a point in September then held in October at 9-point-2 percent. But Rhode Island has added 35-hundred jobs since July.
Sectors seeing the largest growth were Professional and Business Services and Accommodation and Food Services. Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training Director Charles Fogarty said construction has also seen a nice bump over the past few months.
The partial government shutdown is proving to be a problem for some American home buyers. Most lenders require income verification through the IRS. The verification requirement is problematic because most IRS functions have been suspended.
Victoria Doran, president of the Rhode Island Association of Realtors, says it hasn’t caused a logjam yet but will if the government shutdown continues much longer.