Governor McKee Looks Beyond COVID in State of the State Address | health and fitness

PROVIDENCE, RI (AP) — As the pandemic continues to dominate the conversation, Rhode Island’s governor said in his first-ever state of the state address on Tuesday that it’s time to start looking forward. to come up.

Democratic Gov. Dan McKee outlined his administration’s legislative plans and budget priorities in his address to the General Assembly, and said a proposal was coming soon on how to use the bulk of the $1.1 billion dollars in federal pandemic relief funds.

McKee, in prepared remarks, said his next budget will be fiscally responsible and include no across-the-board tax increases, while proposing investments in schools and affordable housing, expanding Medicaid to cover all children, supporting small businesses and fighting climate change.

McKee, a former mayor, said while the pandemic continues to pose a challenge, “the state of our state is resilient and full of opportunity,” according to the remarks.

McKee took office as governor last March when Gina Raimondo assumed the role of U.S. Secretary of Commerce in President Joe Biden’s administration. He is expected to run for governor this year. He faces a packed field that includes the Secretary of State and Treasurer of Rhode Island.

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McKee highlighted a number of proposed budget investments on Tuesday, including prioritizing support for homeless people and building affordable housing, with a proposal to spend $250 million to create and preserve thousands of units. housing and transform degraded properties.

He also wants to invest $50 million to help people pay the down payment for a home.

McKee said all children should have access to health insurance through Medicaid, and he wants to extend coverage for new mothers. He also wants to allow more families to use a program that subsidizes childcare costs.

For schools, it proposes more than 430 million dollars for the construction of educational establishments.

Supporting small businesses is also a priority, he said, and his budget will include a separate item to improve Rhode Island’s small business climate. The governor wants to spend more on business grants and canceling student loan debt, cutting business taxes and supporting minority-owned businesses. During the pandemic, restaurants have been allowed to sell beer, wine and mixed drinks with takeout orders. McKee wants to let them do this permanently.

McKee’s budget proposal will include millions to address climate change. He highlighted plans to create a statewide network of electric car charging stations and convert public transit vehicles to electric vehicles. He wants to invest in the state’s “blue economy” by making the state a leader in ocean-related technologies, improving ports, and investing in aquaculture, including seafood processing. Wed.

Earlier this month, on the first day of the legislative session, the General Assembly approved spending about 10% of the state’s federal pandemic relief money.

McKee also thanked Rhode Island’s top public health official, Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, that has guided the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. His resignation was announced last week, without any reason. McKee plans to use a committee of Rhode Island medical professionals to lead the search for the acting and permanent health director.

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