Raimondo kicks off campaign for governor

Raimondo kicks off campaign for governor

PAWTUCKET – Gina Raimondo has officially launched her campaign for Rhode Island governor by outlining what she calls “a bold progressive” policy agenda designed to jump-start Rhode Island’s economy.

“My vision for a better Rhode Island starts with a simple idea - we are all in this together,” said Raimondo in prepared remarks Monday. “We need a collective moment where we commit ourselves to long-term solutions.”

Raimondo told an audience at Pawtucket’s Hope Artiste Village of her upbringing in Smithfield, highlighting how she learned important lessons from her grandfather, an Italian immigrant who chose Rhode Island to better his life, her father who showed courage after the Bulova plant closed and her mother, a strong woman who did more, with less. Through the love and support of her family, she said she was taught courage and developed a “can-do attitude” in the face of adversity.

As governor, Raimondo said she will continue getting important things done for Rhode Island. She pledged to “bring good jobs to the state with innovative ideas, reinvest in education by bringing our schools into the 21st Century and make rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure a priority.”

Raimondo posed a "punch list" of questions and ideas she says must be addressed to move forward, while staying true to our Democratic ideals. They include:

• How do we build up our economy and bring down unemployment? Drawing from her experiences after her father’s watch factory closed, Raimondo explained that tackling the state’s unemployment rate, tied for highest in the country, would require the same urgency that she brought to pension reform.

• The development of the Rhode Island Innovation Institute, which would have a mission of bringing together government, universities and the private sector to turn innovation into businesses that produce jobs and goods in Rhode Island. The state is well positioned to excel in the areas of advanced manufacturing, bio tech, food science and marine technologies, said Raimondo.

• Public colleges as workforce development engines. There is an opportunity to align the Community College of Rhode Island with the needs of Rhode Island’s businesses, according to Raimondo. By working with businesses, officials can create curriculums based on the skills businesses need, and establish a job-matching program for recent graduates.
“Building a pipeline of trained talent will give confidence to businesses that they will have the talent they need to grow,” she said.

• How we lift up those who have been left out?

“While we are revitalizing our economy, we need to make sure that no one is left behind,” said Raimondo. “That means rethinking how we fight poverty and economic injustice. We need a state government that is socially conscious, forward thinking and fiscally responsible, all at the same time. One is no less important than the others.”

• Consider using social impact bonds. By thinking creatively about how to effectively deliver social services, the state could turn to social impact bonds to save money, said Raimondo. The idea is that philanthropists and foundations provide capital to fund innovative approaches to social problems like homelessness, and receive a return on their investments when success is achieved.

• How do we better educate our children and employees so they have the skills they need in a global economy?
“To get more people to work in good jobs, we must re-design our schools for success in the 21st century and consistently improve our student performance,” said Raimondo. “It starts in our elementary, middle and high schools. With my own children in a public school, I have a personal stake in this, too.”

• Setting a strategic vision as the moratorium on school construction ends. According to Raimondo, “it is time to plan and reinvest in education by creating a dedicated funding stream to bring our existing school buildings and education infrastructure into the 21st century and building new schools.”

• Making college affordable. Create a statewide scholarship program to make attending one of the state’s public colleges or universities a reality for more Rhode Island students, and a student loan forgiveness program for college graduates who stay in Rhode Island to work or start a new business.

• How can we invest in our infrastructure to best put people to work and improve our quality of life?
“Investing in our infrastructure is one of the fastest ways we can put people to work and improve our quality of life,” said Raimondo.

• Road and bridge funding formula. Similar to our school funding formula, it is time to work with municipalities on their specific needs as part of a larger, statewide plan to make sure our infrastructure is safer and costs lower.

• Creating a green bank. By leveraging public and private funds Rhode Island officials can scale the state’s “green” infrastructure and clean energy opportunities. The bank would offer financing expertise and low cost capital to encourage homeowners, companies, non-profits, cities and towns to finally “go green.”

In addition to laying out her broad vision, Raimondo also noted what she called her core Democratic beliefs such as:

• Banning assault weapons, getting rid of high capacity magazines and letting cities and towns ban the weapons without asking the state’s permission.

• Raising the minimum wage and indexing it with regular cost of living adjustments.

• Ensuring every four-year-old has access to pre-kindergarten.

• Providing undocumented workers with drivers’ licenses.

• And holding Wall Street to the same ethical standards as everyone else in the country.