General Assembly Kicks Off at RI State House

With the population going down and the unemployment rate going up, Rhode Island lawmakers have a lot to tackle in the new session.

As the Senate and House chambers fill for the first time this year, legislators have their work cut out for them. One of the top issues on House Majority Leader Nicholas Mattiello's mid is fixing the local pension systems, which as of right now faces an unfunded liability of more than $2 billion.

“Right now we are in the process of evaluating the cities and towns and once we come up with strategies we will implement them” Mattiello said. “We will make sure our cities and towns remain healthy.”

However, cities and towns are not the one ones in the red, the entire state is in the hole roughly $120 million. Governor Lincoln Chafee has already hinted at raising taxes to fix it, but Tea Party Representative Doreen Costa says she will not stand for that.

“We just can't raise the taxes. The people of Rhode Island cannot afford it anymore,” Costa said. “I don't know how many people left the state of Rhode Island, but you saw what the census did.”

Republican Representative Joseph Trillo says another way to raise revenue is through casinos. This session he is proposing a waterfront casino in Quonset to compete with Connecticut and Massachusetts.

“It's not even just compete with them. I want to blow them out of the water,” Trillo said. “I want to build a facility that everyone from all over the world would want to come to. We even have an airport that people could fly their private jets into right to the casino.”