With our August Newsletter, RIPEC brings you a brief update on the major public policy issues impacting the Ocean State.
RIPEC on Public Policy
- RIPEC President and CEO Michael DiBiase was appointed to a new working group established by Mayor Jorge Elorza with the aim of studying and addressing Providence’s $1.2 billion unfunded pension liability. Stressing the importance of tackling the city’s fiscal challenges more broadly—including its almost equally large unfunded OPEB liability—DiBiase stressed that “there’s probably no greater fiscal challenge for our state than Providence’s finances” at the announcement of the working group.
- The Public’s Radio, “Elorza’s working group frames Providence pension crisis as statewide issue”
- Providence Business News, “Elorza announces working group to consider long-term Providence pension solutions”
- Providence Journal, “Providence announces pension working group to address unfunded liability”
- RIPEC, in partnership with the Economic Progress Institute, continues to support the Rhode Island Foundation initiative, Make It Happen: Investing in Rhode Island’s Future, conducting independent analysis and receiving ideas from the public to help the initiative’s 15-member steering committee develop recommendations for the state’s investment of $1.1 billion in federal American Rescue Plan Act funding. July 15 marked the final day for Rhode Islanders to submit ideas to the committee.
- Rhode Island did not fare well on two recently released business rankings. CNBC’s “America’s Top States for Business 2021” placed Rhode Island at 46th—with the state ranking particularly low in the “cost of doing business” and “infrastructure” categories. Similarly, the Ocean State came in at 48th on WalletHub’s list of “2021’s Best & Worst States to Start a Business,” besting only Connecticut and New Jersey.
- What’s inside Rhode Island’s fiscal year (FY) 2022 budget? See the House Fiscal Advisory Staff’s comprehensive and newly released analysis of the budget as enacted.
- After much wrangling, a new contract was signed with the union representing the teachers of Rhode Island’s largest public school district, Providence. Among other changes, the contract provides that the teachers in the state-run Providence public school district will receive raises, adds four more professional development days to their schedule, and increases principal oversight.
- The National Bureau of Economic Research recently determined that the COVID-19 economic recession was the shortest recession on record in the United States, lasting just two months, from February to April 2020.
What to Look for in August
- With the recent reversal of CDC recommendations regarding masking for fully vaccinated individuals, we may see the return of mask mandates and an increase in vaccine requirements.
- Keep an eye out for July jobs numbers—Rhode Island gained 1,700 jobs in June over May. Will this positive trend continue amid renewed pandemic concerns? Nationally, economists are projecting a high level of churn and continued improvement, though public health concerns, lack of access to childcare, and the temporary boost to unemployment insurance benefits continues to limit job market gains.