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Public Statements - Lincoln Chafee on Jobs, the RIEDC, Race to the Top and More


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By Dan McGowan

Over the next few weeks, I will be interviewing Rhode Island's gubernatorial candidates. If you have any questions for the candidates, please e-mail me at

Independent Lincoln Chafee was kind enough to sit down for the first interview. Among the topics discussed were the economy, job creation, 38 Studios, the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation, education, his sales tax idea, pension reform, the Rhode Island Loan Guarantee Fund and the environment.

--Senator Chafee said his number one priority as governor will be jobs for Rhode Islanders and that in order to so, the state needs to focus on making its assets work better. Specifically, he believes the train station in Warwick and route 95 has great potential for economic growth. He also believes the "knowledge district" in Providence has potential for healthcare related growth and that Aquidneck Island can be a growth industry for tourism and defense-related business.

--On 38 Studios, Chafee said he would have to look at what his options were when it comes to working with Curt Schilling's company. He said he'll continue to argue that the process was flawed and that Governor Carcieri should not be going out the door making such large decisions about the future of Rhode Island with such a poor track record. Chafee also said he didn't trust the RIEDC and that his first order of business will be to make sure that board members share his philosophy for economic development.

--He called the $75 million in Race to the Top money a big win in some ways for Rhode Island, but stressed that he wants to make sure the money is spent right and that the state will implement programs that are sustainable long after the program ends. He pointed to a number of federal programs that haven't worked and said cities should be able to make up their own minds about what works rather than Washington telling them what to do.

When asked about being too pro-union, he said he's been running for office since 1985 and that he's never had union support until now. He said he remains wary about charters schools undermining and skimming off the top of our public school system. He also said he'll wait until after the election before commenting on Commissioner Deb Gist and that he doesn't buy into the notion that our public schools are in disarray.

--On his sales tax proposal, Chafee said he wasn't in the state house when the bad decisions were made and criticized his opponents for not having a specific plan. He said he doesn't like taxes, but a sales tax is the least harmful for economic growth and pointed to similar two-tier sales tax systems that work in Tennessee and Illinois.

--On pension reform, Chafee said the state needs to stay competitive with the private sector and that we need to look into a shared responsibility model, where the employee and employer (the state) will share the ups and downs of the market.

--Chafee said he supports all renewable energy projects and that we have to have to foresight to develop technologies so we're ready for the future. He said he believes the state has an abundance of natural gas, but the difficult part is delivering it to the pipeline. He thinks we should take a regional approach and that New England should have one LNG terminal that is offshore as opposed to many.

Quick hitters
Will you sign a bill legalizing same sex marriage? YES
Will you repeal E-Verify? YES
Do you support undocumented citizens receiving in-state tuition? YES
Grade for Governor Carcieri: A+ on the Station fire. E on the economy
Do you support full-casino gambling in Rhode Island? YES

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