Governor’s top priorities: economy, vaccinations and influx of federal money

Raymond Baccari

News Editor

In the latest episode of Ray-ality TV, Governor Dan McKee weighed in on a range of topics. Some of the subjects include his main priorities as Governor and several key issues facing Rhode Island.


McKee’s top priorities as Governor revolve around three main things: rebuilding the state’s economy, increasing vaccination rates and utilizing the influx of federal funds.


“[My top priorities] are a combination of those things I would say. The health, vaccinations, the issues that have to do with the economy, the schools, the equity pieces that are really important for us to address and being really smart about how you use these federal resources in a way that maximizes the opportunity [for our state].”


McKee added that Rhode Islanders should check out ri2030.com. This website currently contains a working document that can be summarized as, “a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build a more resilient, prosperous and equitable state for all. Making the most of this opportunity will require a collaborative effort to address not only the issues caused by the pandemic, but also those that existed long before. That’s why our Administration launched RI 2030: to craft a vision both for the state’s economic recovery as well as for what we want Rhode Island to look like in the years ahead.”


The influx of federal money gives the state two additional opportunities. These are getting rid of the car tax once and for all and not extending the tolls on trucks to cars.


McKee is not in favor of extending the tolls to cars currently, saying, “Right now I’m not for that, but one of the things we have to realize is that we’re fortunate to have the infrastructure dollars to complement what the truck tolls were bringing in. We need to have a good infrastructure, that’s important to our economy. I think at this moment in time, we’re in good shape there.”


Even though additional tolls aren’t on the radar currently, McKee further explained that long term, the gas tax may not be a reliable source of revenue which helps fund infrastructure as the tolls do.


“The area that you need to take a look at is the gas tax. [T]he fact that we’re moving into different types of transportation, including electric vehicles. You’re going to have to have a regional addressing on [that issue] as you lose more gasoline sales, you lose more revenue and those revenues are targeted at specific items including infrastructure improvements.”


As for the infamous car tax, McKee expects the phase out will continue.


McKee has shown his support for things like charter schools throughout the years. However, he is opposed to other educational reform proposals such as school choice, also known as voucher programs. He says, “I have not been supportive of voucher programs. I think that we have to work on our public school system. That has historically been a really important base that we work off of, I think we can improve our public schools. I think we really need to double down and improve our public schools at this point in time. Overall I think we should invest in our public schools, which the charter schools are public schools.”


Additionally, McKee and I spoke about non-political topics such as what his favorite professional sports teams are and what characteristics he thinks the state is best known for.


To view the full interview, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFaoAql2pr8.





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