Yesterday, four state representatives and two state senators released a joint statement announcing a press conference Wednesday where they will decry Gov. Lincoln Chafee '75 P'14 for supporting a measure that will allow undocumented students in Rhode Island to pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities. The Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education voted to approve the measure last week. Chafee is attempting to "create law through his own system of Obama-like czars" and has "ignored the will of the people," the statement reads. Specifically, the legislators criticized the governor's perceived marginalization of the General Assembly's authority. Chafee's office fired back yesterday afternoon, releasing a statement that read, "Any student of Rhode Island state government knows that constitutionally we have a strong legislature. Compared with other states, the executive branch has less authority."
Federal grant to aid public school students in college process
Rhode Island public school students — who, according to reports last week, are now taking the SAT in greater numbers than ever — will receive a boost in the college process in the form of a $3 million federal grant. The Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs will provide up to $18 million over the next several years in the form of advisory services, scholarship support and college readiness programs. The College Crusade, an organization that aids students from low-income families with the college preparation process, will send a team of 24 full-time advisers to middle and high schools across the state. Three years ago, the state also received a $2.7 million award through GEAR UP.
Providence Hispanic unemployment rate among highest nationwide
Providence and Hartford, Conn., have two of the highest unemployment rates for Hispanics, an Economic Policy Institute study found. In 2010, Hispanics in Providence were more than twice as likely as whites to be unemployed, while Hispanics in Hartford were over three times as likely to be unemployed. The two districts also ranked highest in Hispanic unemployment increases from 2009 to 2010. Though the institute's research does not cover in any detail the factors behind the unemployment numbers, its brief suggested that construction — a field that employs a high proportion of Hispanics nationwide — is "probably less important" in Providence and Hartford.
Gas prices plummet
At $3.589 per gallon, the price of gasoline in Rhode Island hit its lowest mark since March yesterday, dropping another nine cents per gallon, according to AAA Southern New England. Though the price has fallen by 14 cents in the last two weeks, drivers in the state still pay 17 cents more per gallon than the national average. Andrea Tremblay, an employee at Au Bon Pain on Thayer Street, said she does not waste her time on Rhode Island gas prices. "I drive to Massachusetts to get my gas. It's 30 percent cheaper there," she said, calling Rhode Island's prices "way too expensive." The price of a gallon of gas in Rhode Island in October 2010 was $2.699, 89 cents cheaper than the current average.
New taxes on drugs, smartphone apps to start Saturday
A new batch of sales taxes is slated to go into effect in Rhode Island Saturday, raising the price on non-prescription drugs, sightseeing tours, smartphone applications and downloadable software. The taxes will provide the state — which faced a $331 million budget shortfall this spring — with an estimated $22 million in annual revenue. Legislators said the additional taxes are on par with policies in Massachusetts and Connecticut.