Ballot questions on education, environment spending approved

November 7, 2018

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Islanders have approved millions of dollars in borrowing for education and environmental projects statewide.

Voters on Tuesday approved three ballot questions: a $250 million bond to rebuild local public schools, another $70 million for the state’s public colleges and universities, and nearly $50 million for environmental and recreational projects.

Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo had championed the public education ballot question, asking voters to make a “once-in-a-generation investment to fix our schools” after years of neglect.

That money, spread over five years, will help municipalities build, renovate and modernize schools as part of a 10-year plan. Voters will be then asked to approve another $250 million in 2022. The money from the state, combined with matching funds from municipalities, is expected to eventually total more than $2 billion.

The separate ballot question on higher education spending provides $45 million for University of Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay campus and $25 million for Rhode Island College’s Feinstein School of Education and Human Development.

The Narragansett Bay campus is home to the Graduate School of Oceanography, a top oceanographic institution. The university plans to build a new Ocean Technology building and upgrade its pier for a new research vessel, among other projects. Rhode Island College plans to renovate its school of education, which was built in 1971 and hasn’t been updated.

The environmental ballot question provides $47.3 million for ten initiatives. About $5 million will be used to make improvements to wastewater treatment facilities to guard against flooding, $5 million will be used for the state’s system of bike paths and nearly $8 million will be used to provide capital for clean water and drinking water projects.

The money will also be used to protect farmland, preserve open space, ensure that dams are safe, clean up former industrial sites, help protect coastal habitats and support local recreation projects.

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