The Providence American conducted an interview of Governor Raimondo on some
key issues facing Rhode Islanders. We presented the Governor with the following
questions and she provided the responses. Hopefully you will agree with the
Governor on these very important issues.
PA: How do you vision Justice Reform in Rhode Island?
Do you support Restorative Justice and restorative practices?
Our recidivism rate is too high, and too few people receive the help they need
to turn their lives around. We are spending too much money, and not
getting the outcomes people deserve. I convened the Justice Reinvestment
Working Group so that a group of experts could make recommendations on how best
to address these issues, and we put those recommendations in front of the
legislature. Unfortunately, the package last year did not pass. I hope the
General Assembly passes these bills this year.
PA: Criminal Justice reforms currently be discussed in
the General Assembly consider such items as 1) Probation reform, 2) Expungement
rules for misdemeanors, 3) Jail terms vs. extraordinary long probation terms;
what is your position on these potential reforms to our criminal justice
system, and how will you respond to them if required to do so.
The General Assembly has under consideration a set of bills that are the
product of the Justice Reinvestment Working Group that I convened in my first
year of office. I fully support these measures and hope they reach my desk.
PA: Do you
have a plan for Rhode Islanders that will be left behind in the workforce of
tomorrow, due in part to their lack of knowledge and ability in the skill sets
needed for jobs in the future?
Absolutely- there’s nothing worse for me than hearing from Rhode Islanders who
tell me, “Gov- I can’t get a job with the salary I need to support my family. I
don’t have the skills.” That’s not okay with me. Everyone deserves a shot in
the Rhode Island of the future, which is why as Governor, I’ve invested so much
in job training programs. We started Real Jobs RI, a demand-driven initiative
that works with businesses looking to hire to design training programs that
will produce qualified workers. Companies like Electric Boat and Toray Plastics
are taking advantage of these partnerships and already seeing results. And
earlier this year, I launched the Rhode Island Manufacturing Initiative, which
invests millions in workforce development, training and education for one of
our state’s most essential industries. The proposal includes $3.65 million to
enhance manufacturing programs at the Davies Career and Technical High School,
$2 million for the Job-ready Workplace Learning Program to provide refundable
job training tax credits on a competitive basis to help support job training
and $1.2 million to invest in the state's Pathways in Technology Early College
High School (P-TECH) initiative to continue the manufacturing training
partnership at Westerly High School. I want every Rhode Islander to have the
opportunity to get a good, family-supporting job.
PA: Chicago Mayor recently unveiled a program of
focusing education expectation for children in Chicago to be from Kindergarten
thru college (K-14)? Could this type of challenge be in your future vision for
Rhode Island children?
A century ago, we decided as a nation that every American had a right to free
education up to 12th grade. We did that because those were the skills you
needed to get a good job. But our economy has changed, and the playing field
has changed. So our promise needs to change, too. Our promise needs to change
if the people of Rhode Island are going to have a real shot in the economy of
the future. I believe that in today’s world, K-12 isn’t enough. We’ve already
expanded the definition of public education in Rhode Island to include
universal, all day kindergarten. But the numbers show that by 2020, seven out
of 10 jobs in Rhode Island will require a degree or credential beyond high
school. Right now, fewer than half of Rhode Islanders have that degree or
We need to do more. That’s why at the end of January, I
proposed the Rhode Island Promise scholarship, which would provide Rhode Island
students with two years of college at no cost. For a fraction of a percentage
of our annual budget, we can send thousands of Rhode Island students to public
colleges—opening the door to more kids and cutting the debt burden in half for
them and their families. That means students at URI, CCRI, and RIC have more of
the support they need to graduate on time and that Rhode Island businesses will
have a bigger, stronger talent pool to hire from—so that more steady,
high-skill, high-paying jobs can be created and sustained in this state. Rhode
Island Promise is one of those rare public-policy opportunities that actually
benefits everyone, without raising taxes or implementing cuts elsewhere.
Supporting it isn’t just the right thing to do—it’s the smart thing. You can
find more information about the proposal, including how to support it, at
PA: The Providence American would like to thank Governor
Raimomdo for taking the time to respond to these issues and for her work on
behalf of all Rhode Islanders.