tv Politico State Solutions Conference Discussion with Gov. Raimondo CSPAN February 19, 2020 7:38pm-8:01pm EST
candidates and entourage to stay in a hotel and spend money at a restaurant it'll be good for the colorado economy and hopefully they can go skiing and try to catch an extra day or two as well. >> i would love to go skiing and catch an extra day or two as well. thank you so much governor polis for coming back another year, we really appreciate it. [applause] >> thank you everyone for staying patient. we have had our fair share of trouble issues today so we appreciate you sticking with us. we will have to cut our time a little short because she has places to be but we will get down to a lot of questions and really good discussion of state policy.
my name is caitlin emma. i am a federal budget and congressional appropriations reporter on capitol hill for politico. just a quick reminder to you guys here in the audience and those tuning in on the lifestream, tweet your questions with the hashtag #statesolutions. i have a circuit here and i will track those and hopefully we will get to one or two at the end of our time today. so i am here with rhode island governor gina raimondo, she's serving in the second term as estates democratic governor and she recently delivered her sixth state of the dress. we have a lot to get to and we definitely want to talk on state policy with the time that we have. but i kinda wanted to start with some news that you made earlier this week regarding 2020. i saw you endorsed michael bloomberg for president. you're the former chair of the
democratic governor association. we have a number of candidates to choose from here. i know mayor bloomberg has previously backed your gubernatorial ambitions. but vice president joe biden publicly endorsed you previously as well. i'm wondering why bloomberg who is still seen as a longshot candidate although he's gaining momentum or why not some of the candidates who stood out in iowa even though the results are what they are. but clearly why have you decided to back mayor bloomberg and serve as his national court campaign co-chair. >> thank for having me and i apologize for the delay. i got off the flight and came right here but we were delayed out of providence and i guess they have a lot of weather. i have decided to endure bloomberg for president for a few reasons. one, i firmly believe he has the best chances of beating
president trump, and i'm happy to go into that. for me that ought to be our top priority. if that's not clear by now if you watch a sham of an impeachment proceeding in the defiant state of the union knows it's time for change and i think bloomberg has by far the best chances of beating him. secondly, you mentioned i was chair of the governors. like governors, mike bloomberg has run things. very successfully. he's run a huge company that he started in a one-room office. and he ran the city of new york. new york city is the biggest most complicated city in america. he ran it successfully for 12 years, and frankly, like a lot of governors you have to deliver. you cannot offer promises that are unaffordable, that will
never come to be, that sound good on the stump. you have to fix the roads, provide healthcare, respond to people, make sure the trains are running on time, quite literally, subways in new york city, and he did that. he created half a million jobs and his tenure into covert after 9/11 when the city was on its knees and led a great research. apart from the fact that he liked his chances in november i think is a great leader. in the president's job is an executive job. so i figure somebody who has a track running of running things. you mentioned biden has supported me in the past. i am an admired and and his service. and you mentioned pete buttigieg who his soaring, i think he is a fantastic public servant but we have to be very real and very practical in 2020. we have to be focused on winning and for me it was not that difficult to endorse mike. >> let's dig into state policy.
i know rhode island is facing a projected $180 million budget deficit as a federal budget reporter, i definitely know a little bit about deficit. the federal government is a 1 trillion-dollar. >> that must seem small to you. >> actually it was. in researching the state -- that the drop in the bucket. i know this plays out differently on the state level in the state environment. you said you have a lot of tough choices to make when it comes to tackling the budget gap in addressing how much rhode island is spending versus taking in in revenue. but at the same time you don't want to cut healthcare or medicaid or backtrack on the ambition policies which you push through so far. so what are these tough choices you have to make, how we address the gap? >> it also calls for innovation.
we can't keep doing things the same way. we have to deliver services in a different way more efficiently and effectively a partner with businesses, nonprofits because, yes we have to make cuts, and balance the budget, i presented it to my legislator two weeks ago with no broad-based tax increase i think that's very important. but there's a lot of innovation in different ways of doing things. and a lot of investments. at the same time we were deficit and i'm committed to not raising taxes, we also need to invest so rhode islanders have opportunity. the budget i presented called for 50% increase in public pre-k classrooms. i believe every kid should be able to go for free. it calls for tuition free community college for every high school graduate. something i started a few years
ago that's massively successful. it called for big investment and housing. housing is in crisis in rhode island and in many places. crisis of housing is greater twice as fast as wages. so how do you do it and ready find the money? one innovation is around medicaid, medicaid is about a third of rhode island's budget. which is quite similar to most states to medicaid expansion. as you all know. we have to figure out how to keep a lid on cost without hurting folks by cutting them off of healthcare and reducing eligibility. one idea i have, and this year's budget, is to say if you are a full-time employee and you work for company in rhode island but you make so little that you're medicaid eligible,
by the way we have tens of thousands of people who fall into that category. full-time employees, on medicaid and food stamps. we will say you got the employer has to provide health insurance coverage, you have to take it. but medicaid is more generous than what your company provides. then we will make up the gap. let's say you work for walmart, you live in rhode island, your currently on medicaid, going forward walmart has to give you health insurance, you have to take it. and walmart's health insurance required large co-pays, large premiums, out of pocket cost. we the state of rhode island
through the initiative called rightshare will pay them for you. will pay your co-pay in your premium. so the employee is no worse off. but the employer does not get a free ride anymore on medicaid. they have to provide you with health insurance. i think that'll make rhode island healthier and the ethic it's right thing to do. >> as a solution for tackling this deficit, you have talked about wanting to pursue where one legalization. but another's resistance from the state legislator when it comes to doing appeared why do you think it's a realistic solution to increasing the state revenue and really how can you get this done?
>> let me say, it's not that i want to per se, in fact the first four years as my term of governor i resisted. i did not support myself. and the reason to do it is revenue. i don't know if you been to rhode island, a fantastic state. it's a tiny state, small nestle between connecticut, massachusetts and a couple hour ride from new york. massachusetts has legalized adult use marijuana. connecticut is about to, new york, new jersey, a stone throw away. if you talk to state troopers on highways or teachers in schools, they will tell you, governor it is here, whether you like it or not it is here. from my office in the statehouse in providence and the closest marijuana shop in massachusetts is about a ten minute drive. >> so to pretend that we don't
have adult use marijuana in rhode island is silly. >> let's do the right thing to keep them safe, public health, safety and let's have a responsible way to regulate adult use marijuana. >> by the way there is not that much revenue in it. because the way i propose that we're making increase investment in public awareness, public health, public safety, increase investment and social equity. to try to make up for frankly many of the injustice and the way this country has done policing. >> at the end of the day it's not the money it's a realistic proposal to deal with what's there. >> i think we learn something as governor, legislation change
their mind and sometimes it takes more than a year to get a good idea done. >> i'm asking them to hold hearings this year, do their job, study, get smarter, see what they like, see what they don't like, if we don't do this year maybe next year. to my mind it's inevitable and we should be smart about it. >> you touched on your proposal for pre-k a minute ago but you also did interesting innovations when it comes to higher education. i know you promise to provide two-year tuition free community college in the proposal of rhode island to make it a permanent program i believe sunsets issue. >> a two-part question, one, how do you plan to do that, to this is obviously, as former chair of the democratic governors association, this is a popular proposal that democrats have embraced on the national stage.
is this the idea of two-year tuition free community college or freak college in general. it is unscalable or realistic? >> absolutely. at the end of the day for rhode island they all have the job training and education that they need to get a good job. that is not necessarily for your college degree but i'll tell you this is some degree past high school. period. the days of getting a decent family supporting middle-class job with just a high school
degree are essentially gone if they are not gone now they will be gone soon. >> an issue of basic equity and fairness. how do you say to people you need a degree past high school to get a job but by the way you have to go bankrupt and get into debt to get that degree. it is completely un-american and unfair and bad policy. and that's what invested in a apprenticeship programs, education in two years tuition free community college. in the time that we had done this, two years tuition free community college, we have seen a tripling of a graduation rate at our community college. it is amazing. a few million dollars a year, nothing in the context of a 10 billion-dollar budget, we seen it tripling, and nine fold increase in graduation rate of students of color out of community college. so for me, it's fairness, equity, good for the economy, and affordable, the proposal
won't cost any more money, it's happening, it's working, my contention is just to make it permanent. if they do not make it permanent it is set to expire this year. it would be a crime to pull the rug out from so many young people given it such a successful program. >> we want to keep you on schedule but i want to make sure we squeeze in some questions from the audience on twitter. does anybody have a question that they would like to ask? >> you mentioned education why don't you see the other way around, you get a good education from k-12 and then they get a job rather than
after four years years, they don't understand education. and they don't understand how to manage a government. the public privat e partnership, it's abuse. if you spend more government budget eventually is corrupt and the government and society. so why don't you spend on good sense, achievable and efficient educational problem and how to solve the basic problems rather than all the families.
>> i think that you're touching on the interesting issue when it comes to improving education. i wanted to ask actually about the district providence, i know that district, school district is in the midst of a state takeover, i was a formal education reporter before i covered the federal budget. so i"m very familiar with this model and how difficult and painful it can be. can you talk about improving education at the state and what your marching orders are for the school district of providence? >> in november of last year a few months ago i decided to take really unprecedented action to do a state takeover over of our city of providence public school systems. the simple answer is because the system is broken in providence. for years and years the school system in providence has been
overly bureaucratic and just letting down students, teachers and the community. you have schools in providence, and i'm not exaggerating this, where the facilities are so deteriorated that you hear stories of bats in classrooms, brown drinking water, no heat in the winter. it's just been decades of neglect in a dysfunctional system, so i decided to go ahead and take this action. by the way, it isn't necessarily money. in other words, we spend $18000 a year per pupil in providence. we're not using that money wisely though that's a problem.
the marching orders are, number one, get rid of a culture -- there needs to be a culture that says every student can learn and hold all its students to high expectations. black, white, boy, girl, hold them all to high expectation. secondly standardized curriculum across the district. right now if you're in third grade one school, you're learning something different than third grade in another school. is not aligned to the assesment. it's kind of unbelievable. more autonomy for principal so they can make decisions within their school, and then a whole lot more teacher, high quality teacher development. high standards, standardized high-quality curriculum, different culture, a culture accountability and success, big
improvement of facilities and a lot more supported features. >> we want to be respectful of your schedule. so thank you so much for your time. i think we learned a lot in the time that we spent from your view that mayor bloomberg can best beat trump or that marijuana legalization is the future of where things are heading or to the efforts you're taking to cap health care costs in the state. i want to thank you for sticking with us and everyone tuning in lifestream and i want to thank microsoft for partnering with us in this event. can i get a two-minute shoutout to microsoft? >> sure. >> somebody was talking about partnering with companies and doing things innovatively. the year i took office or the year i ran in 2014, 42 students in public schools in rhode island took the ap computer science test. that's a serious problem, 42 students. 0 kids of color and 12 girls. just think about that.
every job pretty much requires computer skills and it wasn't happening. so i said come on team, let's make a solution, and we partnered with microsoft, they came to town and have helped us to teach teachers how to teach computer science, partner with co.org or university of rhode island. we became the first state in america to teach computer science and a three grade starting in category. last year over 1000 rhode islanders to computer science in high school for college credit. so thank you, microsoft. and thank you to all the teachers who up the game and learn how to teacher. but 42 to 1000 in two years, that's what we can do when we think out-of-the-box. >> great shout out to them. it's time for everybody to