McKee: “Tonight, I’m here to outline our administration’s plan to build a stronger future.”

PROVIDENCE, RI (WLNE) –

Governor McKee delivered his first State of the State address tonight from the bedroom of Rhode Island House, reflecting on the lives lost to the pandemic and pledging to tackle “kitchen table issues.” in 2022. “It is because of you, Rhode Island, that I can stand here before you tonight with confidence and say that the state of our state is resilient and full of opportunity.

Opening the speech with a statement about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the state, McKee praised health workers for making Rhode Island the second-highest number of vaccinations in the nation. He also announced that the state was doing four times more tests per capita than neighboring Massachusetts with 175,000 tests.

In a somber moment, McKee referenced 39 flags placed around the room that represented every city and town in Rhode Island. “This once-in-a-generation public health crisis has claimed more than 3,000 of our fellow Rhode Islanders – and we remember every one of them.”

The governor revealed he is continuing to fund major investments in everyday issues, including $50 million to address the state’s housing crisis by funding down payments for those who need it most. “To make Rhode Island an attractive place to live, work and raise a family, we need to address the availability and quality of housing.”

To support these families, McKee also proposed health care changes to support new mothers and children. “I’m proud to propose that we cover all children with Medicaid – we’ve done it before, let’s do it again. Let’s also extend Medicaid coverage for new moms from 60 days after birth to 12 months.

Investments in education include:

  • $250 million to continue a commitment to school building bonds
  • $50 million for smaller, critical projects such as heating, cooling and security upgrades
  • $430 million for the construction of educational facilities, including the URI campus in Narragansett Bay and the Rhode Island College Student Success Center
  • Established Rhode Island’s first academy of higher learning to provide access to education and training
  • Funding proposed to cancel student loan debt

Additional grants for small businesses were also on the table, including:

  • “Millions” of unspent CARES dollars are being funneled to help small businesses stay afloat with a focus on tourism, hospitality and small farms.
  • Reduction of minimum corporate tax
  • Appointment of a taxpayer steward within the tax department
  • $10 million earmarked for support for minority businesses
  • Good news for restaurants: take-out alcohol could stay

McKee also alluded to funding climate change initiatives such as Netzero 2050 and creating the nation’s first “smart bay” in partnership with URI to research, develop and test ocean technologies.

After the speech, House Republican Minority Leader Blake Filippi responded to the governor’s speech. “The truth is, in Rhode Island, it’s not about being a Democrat or a Republican. It’s about those with power and influence, who decide and always move forward, as opposed to those without power and influence, who always have to foot the bill and suffer the consequences. .

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