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Chafee Calls for Investment in Education, Infrastructure

Read the governor's final State of the State address here.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee.
Gov. Lincoln Chafee.
Gov. Lincoln Chafee called for strong investment in the state's education system and its infrastructure as he delivered his final State of the State address Wednesday night.

Chafee asked legislators to approve more than $50 million in new spending on education. The proposal includes more than $38 million in aid to municipal education and more than $10 million for higher education to prevent tuition increases at the URI, RIC and CCRI. He also threw his support behind a $125 million bond issue to upgrade the URI College of Engineering. 

Calling it a "course correction" from the administration of former Gov. Donald Carcieri, Chafee touted the $189.8 million in education investment his administration has made over his four years in office.

Chafee's $8.5 billion budget proposal — which calls for no change in the current tax structure — also proposes heavy investment in the state's infrastructure, which Chafee termed "more than roads and bridges." In addition to the $115 million URI bond referendum, the governor also lent support to "mass transit hub systems" to reduce gridlock on the highways, runway expansion at T.F. Green Airport, $75 million for investment in environmental remediation and $10 million for a visitors center at For Adams State Park.

Chafee also proposed expanding the historic tax credit program by $50 million and investing in anti-poverty programs and education for all Rhode Islanders, including those of color who make up the bulk of Rhode Island's population growth.

Saying "government can be a force of good in people's lives," Chafee reflected on his single term in office, mentioning the elimination of e-verify, in-state tuition for all Rhode Islanders regardless of citizenship and marriage equality as key successes. He touted his fiscal responsibility, noting his administration" has ended each year with a healthy surplus."

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