PROVIDENCE – Gov. Daniel J. McKee’s proposed fiscal 2023 budget includes three bond questions for the November ballot with a combined $350 million price tag for school construction, higher education and so-called “green economy” initiatives.
- $250 million for another round of K-12 school construction, with $200 million for school construction projects and $50 million for the school building authority capital fund.
- $62 million for higher education, with $50 million for University of Rhode Island Narragansett Bay campus improvements and $12 million for Community College of Rhode Island academic enhancements.
- $38 million for the green economy, including energy and recreation programs. Of that total, $16 million would be for municipal-resiliency matching grants, $5 million for a small-business, green-energy loan program and the rest would be for land acquisition, development, remediation and conservation efforts.
Since taking office in March, McKee has said that education and its programs are a priority for his administration. The $62 million bond question for 2022 reflects a continued commitment to upgrading the state’s higher education facilities, according to his administration. The bond proposal is similar to a $70 million bond question in 2018 that voters approved for higher education facilities: $45 million was designated then for the University of Rhode Island Narragansett Bay Campus, and $25 million went to Rhode Island College’s School of Education and Human Development for Horace Mann Hall.
Amy Kempe, a spokeswoman for CCRI, said the college was appreciative of the governor advancing CCRI’s request in his 2023 budget for a general obligation bond referendum to support critical improvements to its aging facilities.
Through a facilities master planning process that was completed in 2020, CCRI identified its highest priorities for physical improvements, including renovations at campuses in Lincoln, Newport, Providence, and Warwick, she said.
“We have been undertaking this work for several years and these general obligation bond dollars will allow us to accelerate ongoing upgrades to our classrooms, expand wireless capacity and improve energy efficiency campuswide,” said Kempe.
The University of Rhode Island didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on the $50 million bond question in McKee’s budget proposal.
Senate President, Dominick J. Ruggerio, said the $250 million school construction bond is a Senate priority.
“At first glance, I am pleased that many initiatives proposed in the governor’s budget align with Senate priorities, such as investing in education, school facilities, housing, the environment and small-business supports,” said Ruggerio.
House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi did not directly comment on the governor’s ballot initiatives.
Larry Berman, spokesman for Shekarchi, said the ballot items will be carefully reviewed by the House Finance Committee.
Cassius Shuman is a PBN staff writer. Contact him at Shuman@PBN.com. You may also follow him on Twitter @CassiusShuman.
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