House legislators unite around a working families agenda
"For too long, our economic rules have favored the rich at the expense of the rest of us," said Representative Cotter. "Corporations have held wages down while housing prices soar..."
Almost a third of the members of the Rhode Island House of Representatives held a press conference on Tuesday to announce their Working Families Agenda, a list of top priorities for the 2024 legislative session. The group, which included representatives from across Rhode Island, committed to working together and organizing with their colleagues throughout the legislative session to pass the agenda.
The legislators created the agenda by finding the day-to-day issues affecting working families in their districts and building a strategy around common-sense solutions to provide short- and long-term relief. They plan to work together around this list of shared priorities, in addition to their bills, to help push them over the line this session.
You can watch the press conference here:
Representative Megan Cotter (Democrat, District 39, Exeter, Richmond, Hopkinton): “Today, as we come together to present our Working Families agenda. I am a working mom and I represent the hardworking families of Richmond, Exeter, and Hopkinson. My colleagues and I are here today to talk about a set of legislative priorities that have come directly from our districts, from having conversations with working people across the state, with teachers, bus drivers, mothers, and grandmothers. We all come from different districts and we all have very different backgrounds, but we are here together today because two things unite us all.
“The first is that working families in our districts all want the same things. While we represent different communities from different parts of the state, the conversations we've had with the people in our districts all land on the same things. No matter what we look like or where we come from, most of us believe in caring for our families and leaving things better for those to come. For a lot of Rhode Islanders, that means a basic level of economic security, keeping our families fed, [being able to] afford to stay in our homes, keeping our air and water clean for future generations, and funding the things that we need so that we can set our kids and our communities up to thrive.
“The second thing that unites us, both those here today and the people we represent, is that we believe our state can do more for working families, and we're looking to do that this legislative session.
“For too long, our economic rules have favored the rich at the expense of the rest of us. Corporations have held wages down while housing prices soar. Communities and businesses are flooding. Our infrastructure has begun crumbling and our main public transportation system is at the brink of collapse. The scale of our challenges - from building a fair economy to climate change and more - demands serious investment. If we don't step up to fund our communities and our families we will leave thousands of Rhode Islanders struggling to make ends meet.
“We've seen the gap in the budget. We know it's up to us as leaders who are out in our community every day listening to the people who need us. That's why we've put together this Working Families Agenda. This agenda is what it looks like when we join together across different districts and backgrounds to put in place a government that cares for all of us. This agenda will help ensure that Rhode Islanders, no matter their color, background, or zip code, have the funding and support they need to care for their families and communities.
“It will make sure that the wealthiest pay their fair share. It will help schools nurture our kids' dreams and provide medication that we can afford. It will help us in our homes and protect the air we breathe and the water we drink. There will be some politicians and corporations that will be against this agenda, but together we as lawmakers can rewrite the rules so nothing stands in the way of us providing a great life for our families and the communities we represent.”
The Working Families Agenda includes a set of proposals that would expand paid family leave, fund public transportation, help close the affordable housing gap, lower the cost of prescription drugs, provide school meals for every child, promote transparency and accountability in the police department and make the wealthiest Rhode Islanders pay their fair share to improve the lives of all Rhode Islanders.
Representative David Morales (Democrat, District 7, Providence): “Across all of our communities, as noted, we are discussing and sharing vital issues that are important to every one of us, specifically the working people here in our state. One example is our public transportation system because, across almost every community, buses represent a lifeline. From Providence to Newport, to Bristol, to Warwick, to Woonsocket, and to Central Falls, our buses are essential services to ensure that working people, families, seniors, and students can access their daily needs without having to depend on a private vehicle.
“And just to share with all of you, an example that I see daily in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood. When I get up and go for a morning walk as early as 6 AM I already see dozens of students crowded around the bus stops near Academy Avenue and Chalkstone Avenue as they await the 56 or the 92 lines because that is their source of transportation to get to school, and it's not just students as early as 6 AM at those same bus stops.
“I also see frontline essential workers, such as our healthcare workers, in their scrubs. I see service workers in their respective uniforms getting ready for a hard day's work. What they all have in common is the fact that they depend on RIPTA, regardless of weather conditions, to ensure that they can get to where they need to be. Even though RIPTA is an essential service to thousands of Rhode Islanders daily, it is clear that our public transportation system is on the brink of collapse. It is on the verge of being severely underfunded.
“Following the governor's recent state budget proposal, a budget proposal that directly threatens the needs of working people, families, students, and seniors, and threatens their ability to be able to access the grocery store, laundromat, doctor's office, their job, or school.
“RIPTA requires and has gone on record to share that they would need an additional investment of $40 million this fiscal year to stabilize operations and maintain services.
“The governor's budget fell short $30 million as the administration only chose to invest an additional $10 million towards RIPTA. To make matters worse, these additional investments were not made through sustainable general revenue funds. Instead, they were made through one-time federal ARPA funds that, as we know, similar to the gas tax, are not sustainable forms of investments, especially for a resource as important as public transportation.
“To put this grim reality into perspective and not just simply name numbers, it is important to note that the RIPTA board has already started meeting to discuss potential service changes that would take effect going into the spring. They anticipate discontinuing over 30 service lines such as the 76 line on Saturdays, which runs through Central Falls and Pawtucket, home to diverse working-class communities.
“It is also important to note that these are just initial proposals for discontinued services.
“In other words, if RIPTA is officially underfunded come June, the situation is going to get a lot worse as our transit system will be forced to experience brutal budget cuts across the board, which will result in further staff shortages, less frequent services, and a complete discontinuation of vital lines similar to 76.
“We within the General Assembly - this coalition that you see in front of you - is committed to stopping these brutal budget cuts when we head into June and pass the final version of the state budget. Many of us are already organizing directly with the grassroots coalition of bus riders, advocates, and community organizations to ensure that the final state budget in June includes an additional investment of $100 million to maintain current bus services and, most importantly, begin investing back into our workforce because we desperately need to increase the wages of our frontline bus drivers - essential workers who too long have been working these stressful jobs with an increasingly demanding schedule, yet their wages have stayed stagnant and have not met the cost of living increases that we see before us.
“At the same time, we're working to expand transit service to every part of Rhode Island to ensure that no one is disconnected from public transit. That can only happen if we work towards implementing the Transit Master Plan, a plan that is designed to ensure that all Rhode Islanders, regardless of socioeconomic status, regardless of zip code, have access to high-quality public transportation they are entitled to and deserve.
“Public transportation is a service, it is not meant to break even or [make a] profit. This is why we'll continue to advocate to ensure that all working people have access to transit.”
Supporters will soon introduce a bill that will invest far more funding in the state budget for RIPTA to expand public transit across Rhode Island, hire bus drivers, and avoid the fiscal cliff. Investing in RIPTA supports working families in getting to work and school and helps address the climate crisis by reducing car trips.
Representative June Speakman (Democrat, District 68, Warren, Bristol): “Even before the pandemic, Rhode Islanders had too few homes available to buy or rent. Housing prices are eating up bigger chunks of hardworking people's budgets every year, and that was all before inflation started wreaking havoc on Rhode Island's bank accounts. Homelessness grew in Rhode Island by nearly 50% between 2020 and 2022. Over 150,000 households in Rhode Island, more than a third of households in the state, are cost-burdened. 72,000 renters, that's 45% of all renters, are cost-burdened. 78,000 homeowner households, that's 28% of all homeowners, are cost-burdened.
“We want an economy where everyone has access to safe and affordable housing. Our homes are the foundation of our lives. They are gathering places and spaces where we and our families recharge and reconnect. But because of outrageous rent hikes, poorly maintained and underfunded public housing, racial segregation in neighborhoods, increasing urban displacement, and corporate tax and land giveaways, more and more people in this state lack a home in which to thrive.
“Together we can curb displacement and foreclosures, reduce evictions and homelessness, and reign in corporations. We can build the future of housing stability for renters, low-income homeowners, and manufactured housing residents across the state. That starts by closing the gap in affordable housing. We need to find a way to build an additional 27,000 affordable units for Rhode Islanders. To close that gap, we need to add to the great work that our community development corporations, public housing authorities, and others have done to try to meet the needs of Rhode Islanders by adding two additional tools to the housing toolbox.
“These two tools are on our agenda to help close this gap.
“One is accessory dwelling units. We need to make them easier and quicker to build and more affordable for folks to live in. They are affordable compared to the typical single-family household. They generate income for homeowners. They allow elderly Rhode Islanders to age in place. They allow loved ones to live together and to support one another, and they are an immediate opportunity that we can use now to help fulfill many Rhode Islander's right to safe, healthy, and affordable homes. They provide fast relief to those in need, and we should pursue every option to make sure that they are easy to build across the state.
“But to fully exit our current disaster and move towards something resembling a fair society, we must do three things concerning housing - plan, spend, and build. This requires that we, the state of Rhode Island, step into the world of being a developer. That requires us to think outside of the box.
“Let's ask ourselves, what if public housing was available to all, not just the poor? In a nutshell, that's what a public developer fund does. It creates public housing for all. Let's imagine building a 100-unit apartment building and restricting access only to households in poverty. Rents would never meet the cost to keep the property afloat. But if you set aside a third of the homes for people below the poverty line, a third for people near the area, median income, and a third for people above it, you can break even or even come out on top, bringing in funds to help finance affordable units. This model also pushes back on several difficulties that the low-income tax credit and HUD models face: segregation, poverty concentration, and often violent opposition from nearby homeowners.
“What is revolutionary about this bill is that in a social housing system, all kinds of folks -0 high earners, middle class, and working families - can be neighbors in the same building. Market rent rates subsidize affordable units, replacing a predatory system based on profit with a system based on everyday people coming together to meet each other's needs. This is affordable housing that earns the public a profit.
“It works in Maryland's Montgomery County and Vienna. Vienna recently funded a program that will result in thousands of county-owned mixed-income apartments over the next decade. If we implement this in Rhode Island, it will close the affordable housing gap and allow us to reimagine an economy where everyone has access to safe and affordable housing.”
The first bill (2024-H 7062) would allow homeowners to build accessory dwelling units by right statewide within the existing footprint of their structures or on any lot larger than 20,000 square feet, provided that the design satisfies building code, size limits, and infrastructure requirements.
The second bill will create a $50 million revolving fund to finance the development of mixed-income public housing. With housing being the biggest strain on family budgets, increasing housing production is a core part of the solution.
Representative Jennifer Stewart (Democrat, District 59, Pawtucket): “I'm going to talk about a different set of housing concerns than the ones we just heard about, but I want to share the assertion that we all deserve a safe, stable place to call home. Too many Rhode Island Rhode Islanders are living with the stress and fear that they will lose their homes. Why? Because rents have been rapidly increasing, but incomes have not. Also, the supply of reasonably priced apartments has not kept pace with the demand.
“Last session under the leadership of Speaker Shekarchi, we passed important legislation that will eventually help to increase our housing supply. As you heard, there's more to be done there, but the bills that I will spotlight today complement that housing legislation by helping renters who comprise 38% of our state's households.
“The first bill seeks to increase the number of days' notice people have before a rent increase.
“Imagine living paycheck to paycheck, already rent-burdened, and receiving notice of a big rent increase to start the following month. Our current law does not recognize today's rental conditions in which it is so hard to find affordable apartments and in which families are faced with double-digit percentage rent increases. This bill seeks to allow all renters to adjust their budgets, seek additional employment, and get a security deposit together. It seeks to reduce stress for families by ensuring people have more time to figure out what's next and how to remain housed.
“The second bill seeks to ensure that people who face an eviction have access to a lawyer who can advocate for them when they are most in danger of becoming unhoused. Eviction notices can mark the beginning of a disruptive and stressful process that drives people into homelessness and poverty. Rhode Islanders deserve a fair shot in eviction proceedings with a skilled advocate to represent them in court. Most Rhode Islanders facing eviction go to court without a lawyer and most evictions are approved. However, in places that have a guaranteed right to counsel, more tenants have avoided eviction and possible homelessness.
“Given our acute shortage of affordable housing, giving renters more notice of rent increases and making sure counsel represents those threatened with eviction will help us ensure all road Islanders have a safe, stable place to call home with fewer forced into homelessness.”
The Tenant Notification Act (2024-H 7304) will increase the amount of notice a tenant must receive before a rent increase from 30 days to 90 days for most tenants and to 120 days for tenants over age 62, helping to give people the time they need to adjust, and reducing the number of families evicted from their homes.
The right-to-counsel bill will provide tenants with the right to civil representation in eviction proceedings and fund legal counsel for their representation. Both measures seek to keep families in their homes and reduce homelessness.
Representative Justine Caldwell (D-Dist. 30, East Greenwich, West Greenwich): “Thank you for having me here today to talk about a bill that will truly help our working families of Rhode Island. Universal School meals that's breakfast and lunch, to public school children throughout our state, will ensure that no kid is sitting at a desk hungry, getting a subpar meal because of school debt, or not eating out of shame or stigma about being a free lunch kid.
“In Rhode Island, a family of four that earns $4,700 a month is too rich to receive free meals at school. Here in this room and at kitchen tables in every city and town, everyone knows that there is simply not enough for the essentials that a working family needs. Mortgage payments, car payments, utilities, internet, phone, childcare, and grocery costs for families are at an all-time high - with grocery store receipts at the top of that list.
“Working families need help in their day-to-day lives. They don't need an archive. They don't need a new courthouse. They don't need a new $15 million one-year fad to bolster test scores. Hungry students cannot learn no matter what curriculum is at their disposal. Their budget doesn't include home repairs, medical expenses, extracurricular activities for kids, birthdays, clothes, student loan debt, a car accident, putting any money into a savings account, time off from work for the flu, or any expense that we all know would eat up that monthly budget, and then some, in a heartbeat. These are the hard decisions we are putting our working parents through today and our kids are bearing the brunt of it in our public schools.
“We keep hearing that the governor's budget helps the kids who truly need it, but that is not true. With our current laws and the governor's budget, the two students in this family of four would not qualify for free breakfast and lunch. We don't need fads, prizes, or citations to help bolster attendance. We know that food incentivizes kids to come to school. It incentivizes parents to become our partners in making sure their kids arrive. To torture the metaphor, a good coach knows that kids can't play their best on an empty stomach.
“When I bring snacks for my son's sports teams, I don't bring snacks only for the kids I've decided can't afford them. Deepening inequities in our schools and making kids go hungry has no place on Team Rhode Island.”
The bill will provide free breakfast and lunch for all Rhode Island public school students, tackling hunger, boosting learning, and enhancing equity in our schools.
Representative Joshua Giraldo (Democrat, District 56, Central Falls): “I'm going to go ahead and jump right into Paid Family Leave as it is an item that is near and dear to my heart. Not only as an HR director who sees every day how it is essential to our workforce in Rhode Island but also as a parent and a father.
“My middle daughter Catalina, was born almost three months premature a few years back, and I was in the NICU every day and was able to benefit directly from paid family leave as well as having a flexible employer. Thankfully, my daughter made a speedy recovery shortly after my paid lead had expired, but I could not stop thinking about the countless families whose preemies hadn't been better yet. I was haunted by the thought of these parents being forced to choose between being by the side of their infant that's receiving lifesaving care or leaving them to go back to work after their paid leave runs out just to make ends meet.
“This is a decision that no one should ever have to make, and I feel honored that we've chosen to prioritize strengthening Rhode Island's paid family leave system. Even though our TCI system was once trailblazing 10 years ago, it has fallen behind our neighboring states and Rhode Islanders are struggling unnecessarily. They're relying on us to make it a little bit easier.
“My bill expands the number of weeks of paid family leave from six to 12 just like Massachusetts and Connecticut. We know that 12 weeks is recommended by medical professionals as it reduces maternal stress and decreases infant mortality rates.
“My bill also expands the definition of family to honor all the loving and committed caregiving relationships out there, including grandparents and siblings. It also gives a slight bump to the allowance for dependents.
“Our paid leave system and Rhode Island is facing a problem of equity that I want to bring to the forefront. Currently, you can have 60% of your wages replaced by TCI, therefore, our lowest-wage workers are not using the system as much as they could be because they simply cannot take the time off for 60% of $14 an hour. Our neighbors in Massachusetts and Connecticut cover 90% of income for lower-income workers. We have to find a way to increase this amount and I think Representative Grace Diaz, has been working on this issue by making these changes. We can make paid family leave truly work for working families across Rhode Island and we start here today committed to getting these things done. Who's with me on this?”
This bill (2024-H 7171) will increase the amount of paid leave that a person can take to care for a family member to 12 weeks per year, and expand the definition of family a person may use paid leave to care for to include a sibling, grandchild or other “care recipient,” meaning an individual for whom the person is a primary caretaker.
Representative Jose Batista (Democrat, District 12, Providence): “For as much disagreement as can be had in this sacred chamber of democracy, I know there's at least one sentence, all of us can agree is the top priority for all public officials, for all of us who have the privilege to serve: To make sure that Rhode Islanders are safe.
“Holding police officers accountable for excessive force and other misconduct is something that makes us safer and it lets us use our taxpayer dollars to strengthen the economy in our communities. While police accountability has been a mainstream topic that's been well documented in Rhode Island since at least the 1970s, it's been the past five or 10 years, due to social media and public cameras, that has put this issue at the forefront. We've seen Rhode Island cities and towns shell out millions of dollars as a result of undeterred police misconduct. This does not make us safer and it is evidence that real systemic changes are needed to our statute called the Law Enforcement Officer's Bill of Rights.
“For decades, Rhode Island police officers have enjoyed special layers of protection that promote disciplinary impunity, waste public dollars, and make it harder to [remove them from their jobs] even though there are chiefs who know that they should be removed. The bill that we're supporting, H7313, which is supported by at least one-third of the House - representing diverse communities and socioeconomic statuses - [makes changes that] preserve the due process rights of police officers and empowers chiefs to terminate [offending officers] promptly and efficiently.
“This is not an either/or conversation, it's a both conversation. We must do both. Transparency and due process are American values, but Rhode Island's LEOBOR statute makes public access to public investigations nearly impossible. As a result, the public has no insight into what is happening or whether the police are being held accountable at all.
“This is not keeping our communities safe. It is actively growing the already deep divide of trust between communities in Rhode Island and the police officers who are sworn to protect them. That's a big part of the reason why we need to make community members, not police officers, the ones who are the majority on the panel, and make sure that the review process is fair, transparent, and trustworthy. We need to empower police chiefs to remove bad actors from the force and to do so in a fashion that is efficient to prevent us from misdirecting millions of dollars towards misconduct as opposed to funding our schools, our hospitals, affordable housing, and critical services that our communities need to be safe.
“Safety is a top priority for our state, and safety is about our neighborhoods. It's about making sure that people feel and can maintain a basic sense of possibility, opportunity, and connection to each other. Neighborhoods are safer when all of our kids, no matter what language we speak, no matter whether our parents are immigrants or black or white. When all of us get to live without fear of retribution or violence, that is what our state leaders should prioritize. That is what the legislation that we support does, and that is what we enthusiastically look forward to working together to make a reality.”
The proposed reform (2024-H 7313) would require that a majority of the LEOBOR panel must be civilians, require that the LEOBOR panel must defer to the discipline imposed by the police chief unless it finds that the discipline was arbitrary or capricious, and ensure no back pay for a fired officer who has been found to have violated the law.
Representative Teresa Tanzi (Democrat, District 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett): “You've already heard about some of the most hot-button issues facing Rhode Islanders, but we also want to draw attention to a quiet crisis that tens of thousands of Rhode Island families are facing: the rising cost of prescription drugs. Right now, families across our state face a big problem week after week: choosing between paying for their medicine and other important things like food or rent. It's not just our seniors who are struggling, but anyone who needs medications for issues like asthma or anxiety. Most Rhode Islanders agree getting the medicine that we need should be affordable for everyone.
“Thankfully, there's an option on the table that could dramatically decrease prescription drug costs for thousands of Rhode Islanders, and that is to import these medicines from Canada.
“Why do we need to do this? Because currently, the federal government does not bargain with big pharmaceutical companies to lower the costs for most of the prescription and lifesaving drugs that we need.
“A couple of examples of what we pay versus what our neighbors in Canada pay: According to a statement from the health committee in the US Senate, Merck charges diabetes patients in the United States, $6,900 for Januvia when the same product can be purchased in Canada for $900 and just $200 in France. Johnson and Johnson charges folks with arthritis $79,000 for Stelara when it can be purchased for just $16,000 in the UK. Bristol Myers Squibb charges patients in America $7,100 for equi when the same product can be purchased for just $900 in Canada and $650 in France.
“Instead of waiting for the federal government to negotiate these prices, authorizing the state government to import medicines from Canada is a concrete step we can take to reduce the burden for thousands of families and fight back against the egregiously high prices and the profits of both the pharmacy benefits managers who are the middlemen and big pharma. This is a bill that we've been introducing for several years.
“However, this is the first year that we'll be introducing it with the federal government authorizing this program. Florida recently received federal authorization to import prescription drugs from Canada after passing a similar bill. This is what Senator Louis DiPalma and I have been working on for several years. Passing this bill would make Rhode Island one of the few national leaders in providing support for the crushing burden of prescription drug costs.
“This effort has broad support, as you can imagine, including groups like AARP Rhode Island. That's because it's common sense. We're not talking about complicated laws. We're talking about making sure that everyone, no matter where they come from or how much money they have, can get the medicine that they need to stay healthy. This is about removing the obstacles that make it hard for people to get their medicine. When someone can't get their medicine because it's too expensive, it affects all of us. It makes our whole community less healthy. All of our health is connected. My family and neighbors, we take care of each other. It's time we did the same at the state level. Let's authorize Rhode Island to import these prescription drugs and let's reduce costs for families in every corner of our state.”
This bill will allow a state agency to become a licensed wholesaler of prescription drugs from Canada, where medicines are cheaper. Florida recently received federal authorization to import prescription drugs from Canada after passing similar legislation. This seeks to save money on healthcare for the families and seniors who need it the most.
Representative Karen Alzate (Democrat, District 60, Pawtucket, Central Falls): “I know what you're all thinking. You support this agenda. You're super excited. It's going to be so good. But the question we all get is How are we going to pay for it? I think I have part of the solution.
“This is the fifth year that I've introduced this legislation. However, it looks a bit different from what we're used to seeing in the past. As we navigate the challenges of our modern, ever-evolving world, it has become increasingly evident that a fair and equitable tax system is crucial for the well-being of our communities and the overall stability of our economy. Throughout the years that we have introduced this legislation, we have heard from our leadership and colleagues to maybe consider increasing the income levels. So that's exactly what we're doing.
“We're increasing taxes on the millionaires. This is a matter of social justice. Disparities in wealth have reached staggering levels, especially after, during, and continuing from covid. It is our responsibility to ensure that those who have benefited the most from our society contribute their fair share. By implementing a higher tax on millionaires, we can redistribute wealth and bridge the growing gap between the rich and the rest of our society, especially our most vulnerable Rhode Islanders.
“Increased taxes on millionaires can provide much-needed funding for essential public services that we have all heard about here today: education, healthcare, infrastructure, and social programs are the backbone of a thriving society, not to mention a couple of bridges.
“By generating additional revenue from those who can afford and contribute more, we can invest in the well-being and development of all residents of Rhode Island, creating a more equitable and prosperous society for everyone.
“We're proposing to raise the revenue for Rhode Islanders by adding a new 3% tax for millionaires, on top of the current 5.9%. This is similar to what we've proposed in the past. This proposal will not affect any Rhode Islanders who file income that is a million dollars or less. Even millionaires whose taxable income after deductions and credits is a million dollars or less will see no changes in their taxes.
“This proposal impacts an estimated 2,134 of tax filers, which is different from previous proposals. This proposal will generate an estimated $126 million in revenue. Remember when I asked how are we going to pay for all this? We could do it through this. The legislation will establish a restricted receipts account to hold the new revenue generated, which will be appropriated for childcare, early education through college, roads and bridges, and most importantly, public transportation, which is crucial for districts like mine in Pawtucket and Central Falls.
“The importance of raising taxes on millionaires cannot be overstated. It is [a step] towards a more just society where everyone, regardless of their economic status, contributes to the collective well-being. By doing so, we can strengthen our communities, invest in central public services, and build a foundation for a more inclusive and sustainable future. just like our neighbors in Massachusetts have done. Let us [create] a society where prosperity is shared by all and where the benefits of our collective efforts are distributed fairly. By adjusting a tax rate for the wealthiest, we can work towards a fair and more transparent system that ensures everyone pays their fair share.”
This bill (2024-H 7338) will create a new tax on the portion of an individual’s income that is above $1 million per year, generating an estimated $126 million per year.
Representative Leonela Felix (Democrat, District 61, Pawtucket): “For my colleagues, first and foremost, thank you all for being here for your hard work and dedication to these crucial bills. Your commitment to making Rhode Island a state where our rights are protected and where individuals can live full and thriving lives and not just survive is commendable.
“Our agenda is ambitious and it should be. We owe it to our families and communities to invest our energy and determination in delivering the necessary changes that will make all of our lives safer and happier. But this agenda is not just ambitious - it's practical and achievable. Each item on this list is something we can pass this session to significantly improve the lives of people across Rhode Island. These are common sense solutions within our grasp and they are widely supported.
“Megan Cotter and I represent very different districts with unique demographics but the agenda we present today is beneficial for everyone, whether black, white, or brown. These proposals enjoy widespread support from the majority of Rhode Islanders.
“Our agenda aims to ensure that every Rhode Islander - regardless of color, background, or zip code - has the necessary support to care for their families and communities. It tackles the issue of wealth distribution by ensuring that the wealthiest Rhode Islanders contribute their fair share to fund essential services that make all of our lives easier. Our agenda prioritizes education, aims to nurture our children's dreams, and advocates for affordable medications that everyone can access.
“Additionally, it seeks to address housing concerns, keeping people in their homes, and is committed to protecting the quality of the air that we breathe every single day and the water we drink. This press conference is not the end of our advocacy. We are committed to working on and organizing around these and other priorities throughout the legislative session. We look forward to working collaboratively with all of Rhode Island's leadership to transform these common-sense proposals into tangible improvements to the lives of working people this year. Together, let's make a positive impact on the future of Rhode Island.”
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