Raimondo talks jobs at State of the State

Governor Gina Raimondo delivers her 2016 State of the State Address. Photo by Anita Baffoni, WPRO News
Governor Gina Raimondo delivers her 2016 State of the State Address. Photo by Anita Baffoni, WPRO News

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo says she plans to focus this year on building employment skills and improving the state’s schools and business climate.

She delivered her State of the State speech Tuesday night to a packed chamber of the House of Representatives.

She outlined several initiatives from the budget proposal she delivered to lawmakers just moments before her speech.

She ended the half-hour speech with a call to tackle the state’s opioid abuse epidemic, and acknowledged a Pawtucket couple who were guests in the chamber who lost two adult sons to drug overdose deaths.

She also unveiled a nearly $9 billion spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year that includes increases in education funding and new initiatives to draw high-paying jobs to the state.

The governor released the $8.96 billion budget proposal to lawmakers on Tuesday evening as she prepared to deliver the State of the State address outlining her priorities.

The plan closes an estimated $49.5 million shortfall in the fiscal year beginning July 1. It proposes no broad-based tax increases but would create new fees for medical marijuana plants and increase the cigarette tax to $4 per pack from $3.75.

Her plan includes a number of economic development programs. One would expand research and development business tax credits by $5 million.

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