Questions 1 and 2
Questions 1 and 2 represent a referendum on the introduction of “state-operated casino gaming” in Rhode Island’s two privately owned casinos, Twin River and Newport Grand, respectively. While slot machines and other forms of gambling already exist at these locations, passage of this amendment would introduce table-games like poker and blackjack – currently outlawed in the state of Rhode Island – into the two casinos.
Supporters for passage – including Gov. Lincoln Chafee ’75 P’14, House Majority Leader Nicholas Mattiello, D-Cranston, and Rep. William San Bento, D-Pawtucket and North Providence – argue that table games are necessary for the state to raise revenue and maintain competition with neighboring states like Connecticut and Massachusetts. Gambling is currently Rhode Island’s third-largest revenue source, and the casinos are estimated to bring in an additional $65 million per year through increased profits from table games if the measure is passed, according to GoLocalProv. Supporters also argue that the addition of table games to the two casinos will add jobs, an important issue in the state facing the second-highest unemployment rates in the country.
The referendum’s opponents suggest that investing in gambling is risky and imprudent for the state, pointing to the effects of gambling on family stability and individual health as a cost. Opponents have suggested that politicians should consider the negative social effects of this legislation in addition to the positive financial benefits.
Question 3 asks voters to determine whether state funds valuing up to but no more than $50 million should be allocated to the improvement of infrastructure at Rhode Island College. The measure outlines the project, which is to be completed by January 2017.
Rhode Island College has said it needs approximately $44 million to renovate classrooms in two main buildings that have not received considerable updates for over 50 years. The school hopes to use the rest of the funds to improve its nursing and life sciences building.
Some suggest the state does not have adequate funds to allocate to renovation, considering the current dire financial situations of many municipalities within Rhode Island. Towns and cities across the state are facing millions in unfunded pension liabilities and unbalanced budgets.
In Question 4, the state seeks the allocation of up to $94 million for the construction of a new veterans’ home and upgrades for existing centers. The project is slated for completion in 2023, according to the Department of Human Services, which has noted that construction of the new facility will take priority over upgrades to the other centers.
If the project is approved and completed, federal reimbursement policies could help offset the initial cost by 65 percent. Supporters feel that a new center is necessary, considering the condition of the current option, which has almost reached capacity and has not been renovated since 1969. The new center will also provide on-site medial treatment to veterans and would incorporate new amenities for veterans’ families.
But some have suggested that the state does not have adequate funds to allocate to renovation, considering the current dire financial situations of many municipalities within Rhode Island.
The state government is seeking $20 million for two programs for clean water in the state. The government is looking to allocate $12 million for water pollution abatement projects and $8 million for drinking water projects. Both programs are set to begin in 2013 and finish by 2017.
Question 6 on the ballot deals with the provision of no more than $20 million in environmental management bonds that the state would use for a series of projects. The state would allocate $4 million for the Narragansett Bay and Watershed Restoration, $2.5 million for state land acquisition of recreational and “open space lands,” $4.5 million for Farmland Developments Rights – which would fund state acquisitions of farms in order “to eliminate the economic pressure on farmers” – $2.5 million towards Local Land Acquisition Grants for municipalities, $5.5 million of Local Recreation Grants and $1 million for the renovation and development of historic parks in the state.
In Question 7, the state seeks permission for the allocation of $25 million towards affordable housing policies and measures.
Supporters suggest that Rhode Island needs more affordable housing due to the current unemployment situation in the state, pointing to statistics that show the state is one of the most expensive places to live relative to average income earned.
Again, opponents to this allocation call attention to the dire financial situations of many towns and cities in the state and argue that the state does not have the appropriate funds for such a renovation.