Inviting a dialogue
Now just beyond the halfway point of her first 4-year term in office, the media took to grading Governor Gina Raimondo’s performance.
A cross section of high-profile Rhode Islanders were asked to grade her with her obvious supporters giving her predictably good marks and known critics casting Ds. Favorable comments focused on her message to create new jobs by enticing companies to the state and addressing the problem of our deteriorating bridges through the 10-year RhodeWorks program, although its partial funding with tolls for larger trucks remains controversial and will likely be contested in the courts.
Her critics say too many tax dollars are being spent to lure large companies to move to Rhode Island while little is being done to keep the ones that are here. The Cooler Warmer tourism marketing campaign and the mess with UHIP that has hurt some people who can least afford it and threatens the viability of business that help these people are deemed failures.
Performance on promises is a fitting metric to evaluate those in public office.
The governor has stayed on message, making jobs her top priority. For that she is deserving of a B.
Looking forward we see a shift in her effort to advance her agenda. To use the school analogy, the governor is not simply in class but she is also advancing through the grades, taking on new initiatives.
That’s no more apparent than her campaign to provide two years of tuition free college education to all Rhode Islanders and to reduce the car tax.
On both issues – more so on the free tuition than the car tax – she has lined up support. That is part of the process and the governor is prepared to call in the chits from the educational community and her political allies as the budget is hammered out in the General Assembly.
She hasn’t limited her campaign to the legislature either. She’s taken to the streets.
In recent weeks, members of her staff have met with reporters and editors to talk about both plans. They have come armed with documents and willingness to debate, and defend the points. On March 14 she will be talking about her plan at a meeting of the Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce. Surely there will be more appearances.
This is Governor Raimondo’s style. She breaks a problem into its components, tests them and arrives at a conclusion. The final piece is to promote her solution. She did it as State Treasurer in advancing pension reform.
She is doing again with the free tuition initiative, only now she does not have the full support of her former pension reform allies in the General Assembly. Indeed, this is a risk for Governor Raimondo. A failure here would weaken her effectiveness and lend question as to whether she can effectively execute other initiatives.
On the other hand, inviting dialogue to these issues that could profoundly affect Rhode Island is leadership. For that she deserves an A.