For Immediate Release:
March 1, 2021
Media Contact on behalf of Yes for Rhode Island:
Yes for Rhode Island Coalition Backs Passage of Seven Bond Questions
A diverse coalition of community groups are launching “Seven Questions, One Answer,” advocating for across-the-board bond approval in March’s special election
PROVIDENCE, RI — Yes for Rhode Island, a broad coalition of employers and advocates specializing in infrastructure, education, climate, and more, launched a campaign advocating a “yes” vote across all seven bond questions in March’s special election.
Yes for Rhode Island kicked off their “Seven Questions, One Answer,” campaign with a virtual press conference joined by State Treasurer Seth Magaziner, where speakers addressed each bond question, shared insights regarding the election, and discussed what’s at stake.
The coalition is airing advertisements on leading cable networks, local RI broadcast affiliates, social media platforms, and more supporting their “Seven Questions, One Answer” campaign. View the first of those advertisements here: https://youtu.be/VzMdEdj3FAE
“Every Rhode Islander can help our state recover by voting yes on all seven questions on the special election ballot,” said Seth Magaziner, State Treasurer. “These bonds will put thousands of Rhode Islanders to work and will improve our state’s economic competitiveness and quality of life over the long run. That’s why I voted yes on all seven bonds and that’s why I am encouraging all Rhode Islanders to do the same.”
“I think where this is historic is that it’s a coalition of some very significant organizations, many organizations that are working on all seven bond issues at the same time,” explained George Nee, President of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO. “In my recollection, I don’t think that’s ever happened before. And I think that’s why this is so significant.”
If approved by Ocean State voters, the seven referenda questions would authorize bonds and temporary notes to make capital investments to repair roads and bridges, save jobs and businesses, expand access to high-quality public education, guarantee clean water and affordable housing, and stimulate economic growth that will benefit Rhode Island families first, not special interests.
Experts on each of the seven questions expanded on what a “yes” vote would mean during the kickoff press conference.
“We want students to be prepared for 21st century jobs and learn 21st century skills,” said Frank Flynn, President of the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals. “We should not expect professors to teach and students to learn in outdated mid-20th century classrooms. This bond will have an impact on all Rhode Island College students since each must complete a general science elective course, but it will be particularly helpful for our more than 1000 students each year who major in chemistry, physics, science education, nursing, medical imaging, and other health and science related fields.”
“Voting yes on 2 will fund programs that improve forest health, which naturally protects clean drinking water,” said Alicia Lehrer, Executive Director of Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council. “Voting yes on 2 will also help protect and restore Rhode Island’s rivers, like the Woonasquatucket, as well as our beautiful beaches and lakes. We owe it to our children and our grandchildren to protect Rhode Island’s forests, clean water, working lands, and working waters through this bond measure so that future generations can enjoy it just like we do.”
“While the housing crisis existed long before COVID-19 came to our doorstep, the pandemic further demonstrated how critically important it is to have a home – a safe, affordable place to lay our heads and ensure roofs over our heads,” said Courtney Nicolato, President/CEO of United Way of Rhode Island. “So when state officials prescribed that the simple act of staying home as a preventative measure of COVID-19, the importance of housing was clearly evident to all. However, for many of our Rhode Island neighbors, this is a challenge, as the state is on the brink of facing mass evictions with rising unemployment accompanied by high cost of housing. By voting yes on Question 3, the Housing and Community Opportunity bond, Rhode Island supports the construction and rehabilitation of the homes and apartments not only that we have, but the ones that we need for Rhode Island workers, families, seniors, and vets, a home that is affordable.”
“The $71 million will actually leverage four times that and bring in $287 million in federal funds in an 80/20 match so that we can continue to invest and modernize critical infrastructure and our corridors for commerce and to improve the quality of life for all Rhode Islanders in a modern infrastructure,” said Mike Sabatoni, President of the Rhode Island Building & Construction Trades. “…You end up with $360 million of spending in the local economy with workers, tradesmen and women, that construct these projects, on jobs that cannot be outsourced, through local companies represented, by the Construction Industries of Rhode Island, by the Rhode Island AGC, the over 400 companies that we have signed in and around the state of Rhode Island.”
“Childcare is truly a pocketbook issue for all families in our state, but especially for our working families,” said Jeremiah O’Grady, Senior Program Officer of Local Initiatives Support Corporation. “A 2019 survey … indicated that the average cost of an early learning center placement in Rhode Island was $11,000 a year per child … $11,000 per year after taxes, $22,000 a year if you happen to have two children, we are looking at families that are childcare cost burdened as well. At $22,000 a year for childcare, a family earning the state’s median household income of roughly $61,000 will be spending 36% of their income on childcare costs alone.”
“This funding will be used to help nonprofit organizations across the state embark on major construction, renovation and rehabilitation projects,” said Tom Parrish, Executive Director of the Trinity Repertory. “These infrastructure projects will create hundreds of good, well-paying jobs for Rhode Islanders. We also know that investing in arts and preservation works. And we have the data to prove it. Voters overwhelmingly approved a similar $35 million bond initiative in 2014. That initial investment sparked a groundswell of construction and renovation activity across the state, supporting nearly 70 construction and renovation projects, creating more than 1,500 local jobs and generating nearly $90 million in economic activity, that benefited 350 Rhode Island companies from 38 cities and towns.”
“This money specifically is going to be used for infrastructure upgrades, said Laurie White, President of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce. “And I noticed from my fellow panelists that this is a continuing theme, really among all of the bond issues that we’re trying to remedy a lot of our infrastructure in Rhode Island that is old, that is considered relics, that really needs modernization and continued upgrades in order to be able to fuel the jobs and fuel the economy of tomorrow.
A full description of the March bond issue questions can be found in the state’s online Voter Information Handbook. Voters can learn more about each bond question. The Handbook will also be mailed to all voters in early February.
For more information on the coalition and the Yes for Rhode Island coalition, visit www.YesForRI.org.
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About Yes for Rhode Island
Yes for Rhode Island is a diverse coalition launching the “Seven Questions, One Answer” campaign, informing Rhode Islanders that a “yes” vote across all seven bond questions in March’s special election will be a much-needed investment in our state’s future.
Though the bond questions cover multiple industries, only a “yes” vote across all seven will bring the robust economic investment our state desperately needs following the devastating effects of COVID-19. Labor unions, arts councils, preservation groups, education advocates, and more are joining together under Yes for Rhode Island to stand as one voice for the economic recovery we need.
Coalition partners include Build Rhode Island, the Rhode Island AFL-CIO, Rhode Island Associated General Contractors, Office of the Rhode Island General Treasurer, United Way, Rhode Island State Council of the Arts, the Nature Conservancy, Audubon Society of Rhode Island, National Education Association Rhode Island, Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals, and many more.
Learn more at YesForRI.org.