The first gubernatorial debate in the race for the Rhode Island State House will take place tomorrow at the Bristol campus of Roger Williams University. Incumbent Democrat Gov. Gina Raimondo, Republican Mayor of Cranston Allan Fung and former Deputy Minority Leader Joseph Trillo, who is running as an independent, will take the stage at 7:00 p.m. Current polling from WPRI shows Raimondo seven points ahead of her closest challenger, Fung, with Trillo only receiving support from seven percent of the respondents.
Eyewitness News reporter Tim White and reporter Ted Nesi will moderate the debate which will be hosted by Danielle North, anchor for Eyewitness News This Morning, as reported by WPRI.
Though the questions in the debate have not been released to the public, there are various issues that could arise. The three candidates offer different perspectives on the future of Rhode Island.
One of Raimondo’s major campaign goals is to grow the free tuition program Rhode Island Promise, as The Herald previously reported. The plan currently gives in-state students who meet certain requirements free tuition for two years at the Community College of Rhode Island. Raimondo hopes to extend the two years of free tuition to both the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College. Additionally, Raimondo has proposed universal pre-Kindergarten by creating about 70 new classrooms over the next five years, as reported by The Herald. Estimates show that the Rhode Island Promise could cost approximately $35 million, according to the Providence Journal, and Raimondo has said the expanded pre-K program would cost approximately $15 million per year.
Fung referred to Raimondo’s pre-K proposal as a “political Hail Mary,” according to the Providence Journal, while Trillo expressed concern over public spending while the state faces a budget deficit, The Herald previously reported. The state currently faces a deficit of $158 million projected for the 2019 fiscal year, according to WPRI.
Fung plans to make Rhode Island “the land of startups and small businesses,” according to his campaign website. To accomplish this goal, Fung proposes waiving first-year fees for start-ups and ensuring that licensing, permits and incorporation fees are the “lowest in New England.” Additionally, Fung’s platform suggests increasing school safety by putting a resource officer in every school. His campaign plans to reign in “overspending in other departments,” to fund this aim. Moreover, Fung plans to create an Office of the Inspector General to reduce waste, inspect for fraud and put term limits on state legislators.
Trillo’s campaign website lists a slew of policy positions, which include reducing taxes, reducing the size of the state government, increasing infrastructure spending and stopping the construction of the Burriville natural gas power plant. Trillo, like Fung, has also prioritized the need to make Rhode Island friendlier to small businesses.