In the latest episode of Ray-ality TV, Rhode Island Senate President Dominick Ruggerio weighed in on a variety of topics. Some of the subjects include his expectations for the upcoming legislative session, the car tax phaseout and his rematch in next year’s District Four Democratic Primary versus Lenny Cioe.
Some of Ruggerio’s top priorities heading into the next session include housing, and getting the economy back on track with things like childcare so parents can go back to work.
“There’s the housing issue, we want to make sure that there’s affordable housing. We’re looking at the evictions, a lot of landlords hadn’t got paid because there was a moratorium on evictions. We’re hoping that our housing agencies in this state get that money out to the renters so they can pay their landlords.”
Ruggerio continued, “The issue of education is first and foremost. There was learning loss, we have to figure out how [the state] will deal with that. I’m very much supportive of all-day pre-kindergarten. I’m supportive of childcare — I think childcare is going to get people back to work. And it’s also going to help [our economy].”
Another piece of legislation Democrats want to pass in next year’s session is the legalization of marijuana. Ruggerio thinks the state is close to passing a piece of legislation revolving around the issue.
“From what I understand, we’re pretty close. The House and the Senate have been meeting. We’re very close on this issue, I just think it has to be tweaked a little. I’m not sure if we can get to that issue before the end of the year, but definitely in the upcoming year we’re going to be addressing that issue.”
Alongside next year’s legislative session will be the 2022 election cycle. Ruggerio had a close election in his Democratic primary last year versus Cioe. Cioe, who is further to the left than Ruggerio, is going to run against him again. Ruggerio cites how the campaigning style will be different in 2022 as opposed to the mail-in ballot operations that dominated the last election cycle.
“I think it’s going to be a lot different than the last election. A lot of people were fearful because coronavirus was at its height at that time. I think things have eased up. I think you can go around and [be] more of a door-to-door campaigner. And I was kind of prohibited from doing that last time, so that’s my intention. I think it will be a substantially different outcome than it was last time.”
Like many of his legislative colleagues, Ruggerio hopes to continue the phase out of Rhode Island’s infamous car tax.
“We did it in the last budget that we just did. And we’re looking to continue the phase out of [the car tax]. I was here when we had to reinstate it because of the recession and I was not comfortable with that.”
Ruggerio continued, “But I think we can continue to phase it out, it’s about two more years left, but it’s a tremendous number that we have to reimburse to cities and towns, so we gotta keep an eye on that going forward.”
Even though Ruggerio is supportive of the car tax’s full phase out and confident it will occur, he doesn’t want to assure anything.
“I am supportive of [fully phasing out the car tax]. In this environment, I don’t like to assure anything because you never know what is going to happen tomorrow. But I am confident that we can get rid of the car tax within the next year or two.”
Additionally, Ruggerio and I spoke about non-political topics such as what he thinks Rhode Island is best known for.
To view the full interview, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWsmqbQSJz8.