PROVIDENCE – Governor Dan McKee has issued his first veto.
During his weekly press conference Tuesday, McKee said that he has vetoed a bill that he said would require ratepayers to pay for electric system upgrades that are currently funded by renewable energy developers. In a veto message, he said those upgrades can cost tens of millions of dollars.
The bill was approved by the House of Representatives on June 23 and in the Senate on June 29, two days before the legislature went into recess for the summer.
“This bill will have the effect of shifting millions of dollars of costs from developers of renewable energy who sell their power to the National Grid ratepayers,” McKee said in the veto message. “Ratepayers already pay for the renewable energy purchased by National Grid from these projects and, as written, this bill would increase those costs with no oversight by any regulatory agency.”
The veto came on the same day that McKee held a ceremony to sign the $13.1 billion state budget into law. The budget covers the fiscal year that started July 1 and ends June 30, 2022.
McKee also said that he is actively searching for an alternate site for the Achievement First charter school organization to open a new elementary school in the fall after learning that the current plan is to move into the Fortes Elementary School, a traditional public school building owned by the city.
McKee is a charter school supporter, but he said he believes more outreach should have been done to find Achievement First an alternate location. He said the Fortes location on Daboll Street may need to be a one-year solution for Achievement First, but he is hoping to find a new building for the school.
Providence teachers have been critical of the secretive nature of the plan while also noting that is forcing several hundred children who would have attended Fortes to attend the Lima Elementary School, which is located on the same campus.
On the COVID-19 vaccination front, McKee announced that the state is partnering with the Rhode Island Foundation on a $750,000 incentive program to distribute $10,000 grants to nonprofits in an attempt to convince residents to get vaccinated.
The awards, which will be distributed for every 5,000 new vaccinations, will go to nonprofits that provided services or direct assistance in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizations with operating budgets of less than $3 million will be eligible for the grants.
McKee also announced that the state is opening a drive-through vaccination clinic at the Wickford Train Station beginning on July 10.