The bond questions asked Rhode Islanders to borrow millions of dollars for various projects. 

Michael DiBiase, CEO of Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council says the state will benefit in the long-term by investing in infrastructure, childcare, the environment and more. 

“It’s common and responsible for states to borrow money for capital infrastructure; these are long-term investments,” said DiBiase. “You could always talk about, would it be more conservative to not borrow, but I don’t think that’s a wise approach because then you wouldn’t have the benefits of these assets over time.”

DiBiase also said these projects will not only be beneficial for Rhode Islanders decades from now, but it will help in economic growth while recovering from the pandemic.

“It's important to make investments because it’s one of the few tools we have to help accelerate the recovery,” said DiBiase. “So, we felt that to the extent the state could afford it this is something we should be doing and we should actually get the money out and the investments out as fast as possible.”

The Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea said most of the voting was done by mail-in ballots. About 70,000 people voted by mail out of over 100,000 voters. 

Below are the specifics for each bond question: 

Question 1: Higher Education Facilities - $107.3 million total

  • The University of Rhode Island will receive $57.3 million for their Fine Arts Center. The project is expected to be completed by September 2024.
  • Rhode Island College will receive $38 million for the Clarke Science Building Renovation. Construction will begin in 2022 and estimated to be ready for use by 2024. 
  • The Community College of Rhode Island will receive $12 million for renovation and modernization. The projects are anticipated to be completed by 2023.

Question 2: Beach, Clean Water and Green Bond - $74 million total

Most of the money will go to major capital improvements to state beaches, parks, and campgrounds. The state anticipates all projects will be completed within five years after commencement. 

  • $33 million will go to the following sites: Goddard Memorial Park, Roger Wheeler State Beach, Scarborough State Beach, Misquamicut State Beach, Colt State Park, Brenton Point State Park.
  • The second biggest project is the investment in the state’s waters. $15 million will be allocated into different programs aimed at reducing pollution and ensuring access to safe drinking water.

Question 3: Housing and Community Opportunity - $65 million total 

Rhode Island will be increasing availability of affordable housing and work to redevelop existing property. Redevelopment and new construction is expected to kick off in 2021 and be completed by 2026. 

Question 4: Transportation Infrastructure State Match - $71.7 million total

This money will go to improvements of ports, highways, roads and bridges. 

Question  5: Early Childhood Care and Education Capital Fund - $15 million total

These funds will go to improving the quality of early childhood education facilities across the state starting in 2022. 

Question 6: Cultural Arts and the Economy Grant Program and State Preservation Grants Program - $7 million

These bonds will improve arts and cultural facilities with the goal of advancing the cultural, educational and economic development in the state. The money is being allocated to the Trinity Repertory Company, Rhode Island Philharmonic and other programs. 

Question 7: Industrial Facilities Infrastructure - $60 million 

This money will go to economic development in the state, investing in industrial site development and construction at the Port of Davisville at Quonset, Rhode Island’s only public port.