While most RI citizens had already heard about her plan to provide RI students with two free years of college at a state college or university, many other issues were discussed in the Governor’s speech:
1) The budget maintains funding for the commerce programs “because they’re working” said the Governor. Companies are coming here and the local companies are making a decision to stay here.
2) “Our workforce is getting stronger.” People are learning new skills. The Governor pledges that her 2018 budget will include a program to “protect and expand” the State’s workforce training programs.
3) By the end of this year RI will be the first state in the country to offer computer classes to every secondary school student
4) Commitment to the environment – the Governor hopes to double the number of the people working in green jobs by 2020. “Let’s protect our natural resources and while we’re at it, put people to work.”
5) Raimondo asked for the legislature’s help to take on the opiod crisis in Rhode Island. She said it is not isolated in the cities, “it is all around us.” Last year funds were increased to help curb the addiction. She said that her budget will include the same funding this year plus money for rehab housing.
6) Minimum wage and Mandatory Sick Pay – The budget will increase the minimum wage to $10.50 per hour. “No one who works full time should live in poverty”. The budget includes a rate increase for home care workers as well. This group did receive an increase last year and the Governor is proposing another increase this year. Also, the Governor’s budget will require a mandatory sick pay for employees to cover an illness or the illness of a “loved one”.
7) The Governor’s budget includes investment in manufacturing initiatives for high school students, provides equipment improvement incentives and incentives to encourage hiring in manufacturing facilities.
8) The Governor’s budget will include a car excise tax reduction by at least 30% and put over $50 million back into the pockets of Rhode Islanders. She said she looks forward to a lively debate on this issue.
9) The 2018 budget will include money for secondary school students so that they can take the PSAT and the SAT for free
Governor Raimondo finished her speech by saying, “We’re up for this… This is what people are expecting of us…Together we’re going to strengthen this state. We can do this.”