(PROVIDENCE, RI) Ten Rhode Island colleges and universities are teaming up to help the state out of its economic doldrums.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee has announced the formation of the “Rhode Island Higher Education Research Collaborative.”  Its mission: to provide nonpartisan data that will help state leaders develop sustainable economic policies.

(PROVIDENCE, RI) A report examining why Rhode Island’s business climate ranks poorly in national surveys is slated to be released Tuesday.

Rhode Island has repeatedly placed near the bottom in some national surveys on the business friendliness of different states. The new study – entitled “Moving the Needle” – was produced by the state Senate and the business-backed Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council.

(PROVIDENCE, RI) House Speaker Gordon Fox says the time has come for the state Senate to pass a same-sex marriage bill.

Fox, who is openly gay, was joined by his partner as he received the oath of office Tuesday for another term as House speaker.

Fox says Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed hasn’t given him any assurances about the fate of same-sex marriage bill. He says he hopes this is the year for the legislation to move forward.

Minimum wage workers in Rhode Island are getting a pay raise Tuesday. The state’s minimum wage is going up for the first time in five years.

Legislation raising the minimum wage in Rhode Island goes back to 1956, when it was $0.90 an hour. State labor numbers find about 10,000 Rhode Islanders earn the minimum wage, and will get a bump in their next pay check. Sydonia  Lary works two hourly wage jobs in Providence. She’s pleased the state’s minimum wage is going up.

RI housing market rebounds

Dec 31, 2012

There is some good news for Rhode Island’s housing market.  The Rhode Island Association of Realtors reports that single family home sales increased by 43% last month as compared to a year ago.  The median price of 195-thousand-dollars is 1% higher than November 2011.  
November’s numbers also show an even balance between the supply of houses for sale and the number of potential buyers according to the RIAR.  

Photo: RIPR file

PROVIDENCE, RI – Once again, it was a busy year in the Ocean State, and Rhode Island Public Radio's counting down the top ten news stories of 2012. At number 10 is Providence's finances.

Providence Mayor Angel Taveras says he was taken by surprise by the discovery of a category 5 fiscal storm when he took office in January 2011. Taveras has been able to wipe out most of a 110 million dollar deficit in the almost two years since then.

PROVIDENCE, RI – The state's latest homeless census shows a sharp uptick in the number of people living outdoors. It's a consequence of the overcrowded state of shelters.

When the federal government conducted a census of Rhode Island's homeless population at the start of the year it found 28 people living outdoors statewide. A census conducted last week by local volunteers shows the number has more than quintupled to 146.

PROVIDENCE, RI – A Superior Court judge Tuesday ordered the two sides in Rhode Island's pension case to try to settle their differences through mediation. A series of unions are challenging last year's landmark overhaul of the pension system. Five public sector unions are suing the state, arguing that it went too far in cutting retirement benefits.

Photo: RIPR file

PROVIDENCE, RI – A larger than expected surplus means that Rhode Island's deficit for the next fiscal year is about half of what it was expected to be. A presentation at a House Finance Committee meeting Wednesday shows the state to be on track for a 47 million dollar surplus in the current fiscal year.

Thanks to that surplus, the budget hole for the fiscal year starting July first is now put at 70 million dollars. That's roughly half of what was previously expected.

Photo by: Bradley Campbell

PROVIDENCE, RI – All this week we're looking at what's vulnerable in Rhode Island should the U.S. government fall over the so-called "fiscal cliff" triggering spending cuts and tax hikes. While it's unclear whether lawmakers on Capitol Hill will come to an agreement before the end of the year, funding for the environment could face cuts. For example, jobs created by wind energy are at risk.

Photo: RIPR file

PROVIDENCE, RI – All this week we're looking at what's vulnerable in Rhode Island should the U.S. government fall over the so-called "fiscal cliff" triggering spending cuts and tax hikes. While it's unclear whether lawmakers on Capitol Hill will come to an agreement before the end of the year, the defense budget is one area facing across the board cuts. There are some 12-thousand jobs in Rhode Island tied to defense contracts. Here's a look at how cuts to defense could hurt the Ocean State.

PROVIDENCE, RI – Gary Sasse of the Hassenfeld Institute for Public Leadership at Bryant University stopped by our studio to talk about pensions, economic development and more. Here's Rhode Island Public Radio political reporter Ian Donnis.

Do you have insight or expertise on this topic? Please email us, we'd like to hear from you.

PROVIDENCE, RI – The Rhode Island Department of Transportation is holding a pair of meetings next week seeking input on tolls planned for the Sakonnet River Bridge. Federal funding helped pay for the new bridge and at the time of construction tolls were not an option. But now that tolls are likely, the state needs to check back with the public as part of a re-evaluation process. RIDOT will cover where transportation funding comes from, and how tolls fit into the picture.

PROVIDENCE, RI – A group that lobbies for cities and towns is applauding talks aimed at resolving a looming pension crisis in Cranston. Cranston Mayor Allan Fung is planning to sit down with a group of retired firefighters and police officers.

PROVIDENCE, RI – Saturday is National Small Business Saturday, a day to draw attention to the importance of locally-owned businesses.

President of the North Central Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce, Deborah Ramos says this year the Chamber will offer a shuttle connecting stores in North Scituate, North Providence, and Johnston. "The shuttle bus will loop around and make those three stops. And then also during that visit we will be making a brief stop for a small for a light lunch. All for ten dollars."