Gina Raimondo

Ian Donnis/File Photo / RIPR

Although Governor Gina Raimondo highlighted a desire during her 2014 campaign to provide driver's licenses to undocumented Rhode Islanders, the General Assembly is not expected to move the issue forward in this session.

In the fall of 2013, Raimondo campaign expressed disappointment via Twitter when Democratic primary rival Angel Taveras said Congress should decide the issue of driver's licenses for undocumented drivers.

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Rhode Island’s General Assembly and Gov. Gina Raimondo have reached agreement on her first state budget. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay on what the new budget will do and what it lacks.

The $8.7 billion state budget for the financial year that begins three days before the Bristol 4th of July parade  seems greased for approval at the Statehouse. As is usually the case, this spending and taxing plan contains elements Rhode Islanders should cheer yet   fails to address some of our little state’s crying needs.


House lawmakers will vote next week on an $8.7 billion dollar state budget. More than a third of it pays for health care and other related services. Rhode Island Public Radio’s Kristin Gourlay joined host Dave Fallon in the studio to walk through some of the highlights. Listen to the audio or read a transcript of their conversation, below.

DAVE: Kristin, welcome. So a major centerpiece of the budget is Governor Gina Raimondo’s plan to quote “Reinvent Medicaid.” Recap for us what that’s about and tell us, did she get what she wanted?

Ian Donnis / RIPR

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello is praising the budget approved by a legislative committee Tuesday a pro-business spending plan for the state. The budget is considered a political victory for Governor Gina Raimondo since she got most of what she wanted.

The House Finance Committee’s budget eliminates the business sales tax on utilities, reduces the $500 corporate minimum tax by $50, and includes incentives meant to spark jobs. Speaker Mattiello points to how it also cuts taxes on Social Security benefits and increases a tax credit meant to help the poor.


House lawmakers have voted to pass an $8.7 billion dollar budget that restores some proposed cuts and adds money for education and economic development.

House finance committee members voted to include many of Governor Gina Raimondo’s proposals to streamline Medicaid and spur business and job growth.  But the budget that now heads to the full House for a vote is $37 million dollars richer than her original ask, thanks to a rosier state revenue picture. House fiscal advisor Sharon Reynolds Ferland gave lawmakers the bottom line.


  Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter, in a decision released Tuesday afternoon, approved the proposed settlement of Rhode Island's pension conflict.

The judge's action clears the way for the General Assembly to approve the pension deal, the last step needed for the settlement to go into effect. Taft-Carter recently held a multi-day hearing during which some current employees and retirees urged her to reject the settlement.

But the judge ruled that the deal meets the necessary legal standard for it to go forward.

Zakarias Abrous / RIPR

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo met in Providence Tuesday.

According to staffers from Governor Raimondo’s office, the meeting was informal. The governors were expected to discuss college hockey and the first-ever championship for Providence College, which beat out longtime rival Boston University.

The two state leaders were also set to talk about the economy, and what can be done to bolster the region.  Massachusetts has seen declines in unemployment, while Rhode Island has recovered more slowly from the recession.

Mark Moz / flickr

The Rhode Island Association of Realtors is voicing concerns over part of the state budget. The group opposes expanding the definition of a hotel. The new definition would subject rental homes and small bed and breakfasts with at least one room for rent subject to the same taxes as hotels.

State officials expect to raise $5.4 million dollars in the next fiscal year with the proposed change.

Thanks for stopping by for my weekend column. Your tips and thoughts are always welcome at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org, and you can follow me all week long on the twitters. Here we go.

Lieutenant Governor Daniel McKee joins Bonus Q+A this week to discuss his efforts as lieutenant governor, legislation restricting charter schools, the PawSox and other issues.

Ian Donnis/File Photo / RINPR

Lieutenant Governor Daniel McKee joins Political Roundtable this week to discuss the battle between municipalities and fire unions over platoon structures; the formal launch of Lincoln Chafee's presidential campaign; and the outlook for Governor Raimondo's initiative to pay for infrastructure improvements through new tolls on trucks.

Ian Donnis/File Photo / RIPR

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello is putting the brakes on Governor Raimondo’s plan to impose new tolls on trucks.

Speaker Mattiello was at Governor Raimondo’s side last week when she unveiled a plan to make larger commercial trucks pay tolls. Raimondo, who took steps to soften the plan this week, called it a sensible way to pay for road and bridge construction. She said big rigs cause most of the damage.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

The Raimondo administration is reducing the number of trucks it wants to toll as part of a new program to pay for infrastructure improvements. However the State Trucking Association remains opposed to the governor’s initiative.

The governor’s office is exempting trucks in class sizes 6 and 7 from its plan to institute electronic tolls on highways around the state. The cost of the tolls has not yet been publicly identified.


Lawmakers on the House Finance Committee are about to get down to serious discussion of the new state budget. The fate of Governor Gina Raimondo’s most important initiatives will be in their hands.

In a statement, House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said the budget will make the agenda at the Finance Committee next week. This week, the committee reviews a proposed settlement to a lawsuit over the state pension overhaul. It also plans to look over Governor Raimondo’s infrastructure-funding plan, among other issues.