Raimondo Says She’s Willing to Scale Back Free Tuition Plan - Higher Education
Higher Education News and Jobs

Raimondo Says She’s Willing to Scale Back Free Tuition Plan

Email




by Matt O’Brien, Associated Press

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Gov. Gina Raimondo said Tuesday she might have to scale back her plan to provide two years of free tuition at public colleges.

A larger-than-expected revenue shortfall disclosed by state fiscal officials last week has complicated final negotiations between the Democratic governor and state legislators writing the budget for the fiscal year that begins in July.

Raimondo said she is willing to reduce the costs of her signature proposal, citing a “short-term revenue problem” and broader uncertainty surrounding the policies of Republican President Donald Trump.

“We have to be careful in general right now about getting over our skis on any new expenditures that are very large,” she told reporters Tuesday. “I don’t know where Trump’s going to come out on the Affordable Care Act. I don’t know what’s going to happen with federal tax policy.”

“It is a period of uncertainty,” she added. “I need to protect Rhode Island. I need to protect the progress we’ve made. Our economic recovery is strong. We need to keep it going.”

Raimondo said she still wants to include some element of the tuition plan in the upcoming roughly $9 billion budget that legislators are expected to finish writing in the next month. She said boosting higher education is important in the long-term for the state’s population to adapt to a changing economy where good jobs require high skills.

But she said she would consider modifications, such as a means test limiting the benefit to families who need it most.

Her original proposal would provide in-state students with a full two years of free tuition at the Community College of Rhode Island or the final two years of a four-year degree at Rhode Island College or the University of Rhode Island. New York has since enacted a similar law, but with an income cap excluding wealthier families and a requirement that beneficiaries stay in New York for several years after graduation.

  Michigan State's Ivy-covered Halls to Extend to Dubai University

Raimondo’s plan has been lauded by business leaders and young people, including college-bound high school students. But the estimated $30 million-a-year proposal has received a lukewarm response from leaders of the Democratic-controlled legislature who have competing priorities. Further complicating the budget debate, fiscal officials concluded last week that tax revenue is expected to be nearly $100 million less than they had projected in the fall.

The lagging revenues also call into question Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello’s costly plan to phase out municipal car taxes. Raimondo, who has a more modest plan to cut the taxes, said she’s waiting to see Mattiello’s latest proposal.

She said balancing the budget may also require some cuts to social services, but she said leaders can find a way to fill the gap without going backward.

“We’re 1 percent off,” she said. “This isn’t, ‘The sky is falling.’”

Raimondo said many states are experiencing revenue shortfalls, and Rhode Island is in a better situation than several New England neighbors.

Massachusetts has a strong economy and high-wage jobs and “their revenue shortfall’s just over 3 percent compared to our 1 percent,” she said.

RELATED ARTICLES >>
Trump Relegates Transgender Americans to Ranks of Second-Class Citizens On July 26, 1948, President Harry S. Truman took a major step forward in the struggle for equality in the United States by issuing Executive Order 9981 that abolished racial discrimination in the Armed Forces and eventually led to the end of segregat...
3 Rowan University Diversity Programs Awarded NSF Grants Three programs at Rowan University with goals to promote diversity and equality for underrepresented races and sexualities on and off campus recently have been awarded grants by the National Science Foundation to aid those efforts. The grants will...
Bureaucratic Costs Are Twice Instruction Expenses at Some Colleges Some small private colleges are spending almost twice as much on administration as on academics, according to a study by an association of university trustees. The study, based on financial data provided by colleges and universities themselves to ...
Has California Found the Answer to More Equitable Developmental Education? Developmental education (also known as remedial education) serves as a major barrier to a disproportionate number of Black and Brown students in higher education. Dr. DeShawn Preston More than 70 percent of Black students and 63 percent of Lat...
Semantic Tags: