Kalus calls on McKee to lower energy prices, governor refutes claims

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — Less than four weeks from Election Day and a decision on who will win the governor’s race in Rhode Island, the two leading candidates, Ashley Kalus and incumbent Gov. Dan McKee, continue their back-and-forth on many of the issues at the forefront of residents.

At an “Eggs and Issues” gubernatorial forum hosted by the Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce in Lincoln Thursday morning, Republican candidate Ashley Kalus shared her plan for solving issues that have plagued small businesses in Rhode Island in recent years, saying she would offer tax breaks for residents, and stop hikes the Public Utilities Commission approved to winter heating bills.

“I have a plan for taking care of it, it’s making sure we have a tax break for those on fixed incomes and families that make less than $150,000 per year,” Kalus told ABC 6 News. “[And] that we take immediate action to roll back the electricity rate hikes. We’ve provided a path for the governor to do it and he has not done that yet. We deserve relief as a state, and we need that action in order to protect our state.”

McKee didn’t attend Thursday’s forum for reasons unknown. However, his campaign team released a response to Kalus’ claims later in the morning, refuting them and saying her plan is just smoke and mirrors.

“Shame on Ashley Kalus for trying to mislead Rhode Islanders about the law to score political points. Rising energy costs is a serious issue that deserves a serious solution,” said McKee’s campaign manager, Brexton Isaacs. “What Ms. Kalus has served up to voters is nothing more than smoke and mirrors to distract from her failing campaign. This is what desperation looks like.”

McKee’s campaign continued on to say that she has incorrectly posted a statute to her website that she said the governor could invoke to cut energy rate hikes for Rhode Islanders.

In addition to the governor’s response, he also released a list of steps he has taken in an effort to lower energy costs.

That list includes him putting $5.3 million toward Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Funds, which offered relief to about 39,000 Rhode Islanders’ electric bills, and his recent launching of a new energy assistance website that provides eligible consumers state, federal, and nonprofit energy assistance program information, among other efforts.

“These actions are a far more effective, targeted and lasting response than reliance on an inapplicable statute that would expose Rhode Island taxpayers to potentially substantial expense,” said Matt Sheaff, McKee’s spokesperson.

This standoff between the two leading candidates comes after the Public Utilities Commission approved rate hikes for Rhode Island Energy to raise electric bills by $50 a month, which started on Oct. 1, and raise gas bills by $227 annually for winter heating months, set to take effect on Nov. 1.

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