Raimondo: 2017 was a year of challenges, some economic successes in RI

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — For Democratic Governor Gina Raimondo, the biggest challenge of 2017 was dealing with the UHIP computer system crisis.

During a wide-ranging interview at the State House, Raimondo cited job growth numbers as her biggest success of 2017. She also said she’s looking forward to formally launching her re-election campaign early next year.

The governor addressed a number of current topics critical to Rhode Islanders, including trying to address a more than $200 million budget deficit.

“All of the uncertainty in Washington is hurting Rhode Island, ” Raimondo said. “We will find cuts because we have to. A third of our budget is health care and we are looking for inefficiencies there.”

Another story making headlines for most of 2017: a proposal to keep the Pawsox in Rhode Island while fending off competition from nearby Massachusetts. Is the deal in its current state a good deal for Rhode Island? “I do believe it is, I do,” Raimondo said. “The deal before the legislature is revenue-neutral for the state. It’s about a million dollars a year from the state to help pay back the bond. Already we get more than a million dollars in income tax from the players. I have looked hard, I think it’s a good deal.”

Eyewitness News asked if eliminating the much-despised car tax was still a good deal for the cash-strapped state. Taxpayers were promised a multi-year phaseout but Raimondo seemed to waver slightly on whether the tax would be sustainable long term, saying she wanted to try to keep it in the budget this year but that she would have to take a closer look at it next year.

Raimondo also became quite candid when asked about the #MeToo movement this year. It was arguably one of the biggest headlines of 2017 and as the first female governor in the state, she praised women for coming forward to share their stories.

Raimondo also discussed Massachusetts beginning sales of recreational marijuana next year. While she says she’s not completely opposed to legalization in Rhode Island, she says she is still worried about the regulation of edibles and the impact that can have on kids and teenagers.