The Rhode Island Senate unveiled on Wednesday a multi-faceted two-year effort meant to improve the state’s economy.
During a Statehouse media event, Senate President Dominick Ruggerio said the effort was inspired in part by how Rhode Island is expected to lose one of its two congressional seats around the time of the 2022 election.
Speaking broadly, he said the goals of the effort include “removing impediments to development and housing, enhance education and workforce development, incentivize sustainable growth in the solar industry and other areas of alternative energy, and support local industries including seafood, craft beer and small businesses.”
The proposals in the plan include speeding up building inspections; requiring 15 percent of the labor on public construction projects worth at least $5 million to be done by apprentices; and to develop a five-year strategy for improving science and technology education.
Ruggerio said one area deserves the most emphasis considering Rhode Island students’ poor performance on standardized tests.
“Education is number one this year, especially with all the test scores," he said. "We’re hot on the education issue because we have to do something, we have to something this year. So that right now is probably our number one issue, and that could possibly include workforce development.”
The House and Senate are collaborating on education-related legislation that has yet to be unveiled.
The Senate economic plan includes "solar-siting policies that incentivize such projects on brownfields, landfills, superfund sites, gravel pits, etc."
On Housing, the strategy expands allowances for accessory dwelling units to be built in single-family residences for more family members than currently allowed.
One of the Senate’s last major efforts on improving Rhode Island’s economy, “Moving the Needle,” was unveiled in 2013, during the presidency of Teresa Paiva Weed.