I want to thank the Warwick Beacon’s readers for your comments and questions following our first “House Talk” column. I appreciate your interest and active engagement.
Among the many issues the House is focusing during this legislative session are bolstering our state’s economy, improving the quality of public education, and addressing the needs of our elderly and disabled.
With respect to our continued focus on the economy and jobs, the House Finance Committee, under the leadership of Chairman Marvin Abney, is combing through every aspect of the governor’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year beginning on July 1. The adoption of the budget is the most important responsibility of the House, and as a former member of the Finance Committee, one that I take very seriously.
I appreciate the governor’s focus on education, from pre-kindergarten to college, and having a well-educated workforce is certainly critical to our state’s economic future. But we also have to make sure we are funding the current programs we have in place before creating new ones, and I generally do not favor any expansion of taxes or fees as she has proposed. You can be assured our Finance Committee will carefully review every aspect of the budget, and I will keep you informed in this space as their work continues.
To stay connected to the budget process, be sure to “like” the House of Representatives page on Facebook, where we summarize key committee hearings. Also, the State of Rhode Island General Assembly website (rilin.state.ri.us) has a tracker function for all legislation and live streams many committee hearings via our Capitol TV link.
Regarding education, the House is working on improving the state’s academic standards. Leading the charge are Reps. Gregg Amore, an East Providence teacher, and Joseph McNamara, a retired educator with decades of experience in the field. They have sponsored legislation, H-5008, that would provide for the review of existing statewide academic standards and the development of new ones, as necessary, by the commissioner of education. The act would also require that all curriculum frameworks be aligned with these standards as well as with the standardized state tests being implemented in the state. The goal of this legislation is to give parents a clear roadmap of what their children will be learning, and have it be consistent statewide.
As for our senior citizens and the elderly in need, I am extremely proud of the work being undertaken by of Chairwoman Patricia Serpa and the House Oversight Committee. They have been vigilant in their efforts to make sure the state administration addresses the many complaints about a medical transportation company for the sick and frail. They are reviewing hundreds of complaints lodged against a new vendor that provides transportation to Medicaid beneficiaries, the elderly and handicapped. At the conclusion of its most recent hearing, the panel gave all parties involved three weeks to correct all of the problems by the time the Oversight Committee meets again.
I appreciate the letters emailed to me by readers of the first column. A few of you wanted to know my position on the bills that would codify Roe v. Wade into law. I am personally pro-life. I have previously indicated publicly I will collaborate with my colleagues and collectively the House will come up with a decision on the issue. A majority of my colleagues, and an overwhelming majority of the public, do not support a deceptive provision in Rep. Ajello’s bill that would allow late-term abortions up until the day before a birth. You can rest assured the House would not pass such a horrific bill. I am collaborating with my colleagues who seem to favor a strict codification of Roe v. Wade.
Also, readers inquired about my leadership team and committee assignments. I have assembled a team that shares my view in supporting policies that would increase economic activities and growth. Many of the members of the “high tax caucus” who did not support me for speaker have been privately saying their goal is to stop the budget and undermine the House’s work moving forward. I have put members in leadership roles who share my vision and are committed to enacting policies which support a better economy and a brighter future for Rhode Island.
I hope you’ll continue to send any questions you may have to Warwick Beacon assistant editor Ethan Hartley e at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll continue to do my best to keep you well informed on the issues that most matter to you.
Nicholas Mattiello, a Democrat representing District 15 in Cranston, is speaker of the Rhode Island House of Representatives.