When the Senate convened in January, my leadership team and I had high hopes about what the chamber could accomplish. We envisioned a transformational session for our state, one defined by historic progress on many critical issues.
I’m proud to say that, working together, the Senate has moved Rhode Island forward. We have made critical investments in our state’s future and approved legislation that will change people’s lives for the better.
We have also accomplished my top priority: Providing immediate assistance for individuals, families and businesses facing the financial crunch of inflation, in District 4 and across Rhode Island.
The Senate successfully advocated for an early phase-out of the car tax. The vast majority of Rhode Islanders will never see another car tax bill, and that is reason to celebrate. I was proud to lead the effort for this common-sense relief, which is long overdue.
The adopted 2023 state budget also includes other crucial tax relief, including a one-time child tax credit, an increase in the “circuit breaker” tax credit for seniors, an increase in the pension tax exemption, and the elimination of income tax on military pensions.
Every child in Rhode Island deserves the best possible chance for success in life, and that starts in their earliest years. That’s why we made early childhood care and education a primary focus of our work this session. Together, we have laid the foundation for our state to nearly double its number of free, high-quality prekindergarten seats in the next five years, and we have taken steps to strengthen and expand our child care system. This will not only set our children up for success – it will significantly reduce the burden on families, help parents get back to work, and boost our economy.
After several years of debate and consideration, the Senate led a successful effort to legalize the sale and possession of recreational cannabis. The framework we have adopted stands out nationally for its focus on social equity – ensuring all Rhode Islanders can share in the benefits of this policy shift and the vibrant new marketplace.
We had a historic year for the environment and passed important legislation to protect animals from abuse. The Let RI Vote Act will preserve and expand ballot access. Historic investments in housing access and affordability will address a major crisis in our state. In addition, funding for Real Jobs RI and other training programs will provide thousands of people with in-demand skills and help create our future workforce.
New limits on so-called “forever chemicals” will make our communities cleaner and healthier. We ensured that all children will now have access to health care, and new mothers will be covered longer regardless of their income level.
The Senate advocated for a new in-state residential psychiatric treatment facility for women, which will be planned and built, meeting a critical need. And our clinical and social service providers will receive sorely needed support, an especially important development given the mental health challenges we face.
We worked cooperatively and collaboratively with the House of Representatives and Governor Daniel McKee, but none of our incredible progress this year would have been possible without the tireless advocacy and hard work of my colleagues in the Senate. I am continually inspired by their passion, talent, dedication and work ethic.
I am honored to serve as Senate President, and to represent the people of North Providence and Providence.