PROVIDENCE — Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos, a former Providence City Council president, says it’s too soon to end the state takeover of the capital city’s troubled public school district.
During the second episode of the Globe’s Rhode Island Report podcast, Matos addressed the scandal surrounding a former city school administrator who is accused of forcibly massaging a teenage boy’s foot, and added: “I don’t think the city of Providence is ready to take back the Providence School District.”
Matos, who served on the City Council for more than a decade before becoming lieutenant governor in April, said she supported the state takeover because she was frustrated by the lack of progress in the school district.
“We had been doing the same thing and getting the same result, which is insanity,” she said, adding that she viewed the state takeover as a chance to take a different approach.
Too often, Matos said, the expectation is that Providence students can’t be successful. “There needs to be a culture and an expectation that every child has the potential to be successful,” she said.
During the podcast, Matos also discussed ideas she would share with US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, with whom she took part in the Aspen Institute’s Rodel Fellowship Program.
“I’m making a list,” she said. “I think there’s so much potential to improve the infrastructure transportation within the state of Rhode Island.”
That includes proposals to improve train service between Providence and Boston, Matos said.
“Every time I hear a train right now, I only think about him,” she said of Buttigieg. “He’s been talking about trains so much.”
Matos, a Democrat, also talked about her plans to run for a four-year team as lieutenant governor in 2022, her experience working with Governor Daniel J. McKee thus far, and her stance on a controversial plan, contained in McKee’s proposed budget, to tax forgiven Paycheck Protection Program loans above $150,000.
“I can see the argument on both sides,” she said. “But right now, the budget has been submitted, and those are part of the revenue that we’re counting on. If the General Assembly were to find a different type of revenue, I would be in support of that.”
Matos, the first person of color to serve as Rhode Island’s lieutenant governor, recalled moving from the Dominican Republic to the United States when she was 20. She shared her passport photo from that time on Facebook, saying she started her first job, at a factory in Queens, on May 2, 1994 – and she was sworn in as the state’s first Afro-Latina lieutenant governor 27 years later, to the day.
Getting from the factory to the State House “takes a lot of work and also a lot of opportunities,” Matos said. Hear more about how she did it by downloading the latest episode of Rhode Island Report, available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, iHeartRadio, Google Podcasts, and other podcasting platforms. You can also listen to this episode in the player below: