Lawmakers weighing possible voter referendum on PawSox stadium plan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Lawmakers are warming to the idea of holding a voter referendum on whether taxpayers should help pay for a new $83-million Pawtucket Red Sox stadium.

The proposal, currently being reviewed by the General Assembly, calls for team owners to cover $45 million of the cost, with taxpayers picking up the rest of the tab.

Gov. Gina Raimondo and legislative leaders have all said they are open to a public vote on the plan, though they have not committed to putting the proposal on the ballot.

During Friday’s taping of Newsmakers, state Reps. Aaron Regunberg and Blake Filippi both expressed support for the option.

“I think making sure people have a voice in this collective decision could be a really could idea, so I was encouraged to hear that,” Regunberg, D-Providence, said.

“I am happy they are talking about going to the voters to have general-obligation bonds,” Filippi, R-New Shoreham, said.

That common ground erodes, however, when it comes to the recently signed mandatory sick time law.

The bill, sponsored by Regunberg, requires companies with 18 or more employees to give three paid sick days to their workers in 2018, rising to four in 2019 and five thereafter.

“We care about family values and we’re putting the interests and needs of working people front and center,” Regunberg argued.

Filippi said he is concerned businesses are going to respond negatively.

“I think they are going to keep below the 18 person threshold, they pay people less because of this, they may not hire additional employees or they may automate,” Filippi said.

“We’re not going out on a limb here, mass has this policy, Connecticut, Vermont, New York and a number of other state and jurisdictions,” Regunberg said.

Regunberg also told Eyewitness News he is considering running against incumbent Dan McKee in next year’s Democratic primary for lieutenant governor. He said he expects to make a decision by the end of the year.

Tim White ( twhite@wpri.com ) is the Target 12 investigative reporter and host of Newsmakers for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook