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STATE OF THE STATE

READ: The Republican response to Governor Daniel J. McKee’s 2022 State of the State address

House Republican Leader Blake A. FilippiHandout (custom credit)/Blake Filippi

House Minority Leader Blake A. Filippi issued the Republican response to Governor Daniel J. McKee’s first State of the State address. Here are his prepared remarks.

2022 Republican Response to the Governor’s State of the State Address

By House Minority Leader Blake A. Filippi

Good evening Rhode Island, I’m Blake Filippi, the Republican leader in your House of Representatives.

It is time for Rhode Island to have a difficult discussion. Our State has limitless potential — but we must first confront some uncomfortable truths.

Now, we may have our differences, but Republicans, most Democrats aren’t your enemy, either. Democrats, most Republicans aren’t your enemy, either.

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The truth is, for the vast majority of us, our common struggle is to shake off the entrenched special interests who run this state — and for us to unify with a common purpose for our future. To do that, we must have honest and frank conversations.

The pandemic: the uncomfortable truth about the pandemic is that our Government has abandoned the rule of law and our system of checks and balances, and undermines our most basic liberties.

And your General Assembly, which is supposed to be the check and balance on the Governor during emergencies, has handed over the keys, with little meaningful oversight.

For nearly two years we have been governed by a never ending stream of executive orders and regulations;

  • That forced our nursing homes to accept COVID+ patients, causing the thousands of Rhode Island’s most vulnerable to perish.
  • They shut down and destroyed thousands of small businesses, while keeping open Walmart, Home Depot and Target.
  • Shuttered our houses of worship;
  • Halted funerals;
  • Restricted our ability to peacefully assemble as free citizens in our own homes;
  • And cut out the public from this State House while radical policies were enacted and millions of dollars were handed out to special interests.
  • Now today, our children, with near zero risk from COVID, are forced to mask their faces all day — at irreparable harm to their wellbeing, while many maskless politicians have attended large gatherings.
  • We’re supposed to sacrifice for our children, not the other way around.

And all this has been by executive action. No laws passed. No debate. And little meaningful public involvement.

Understanding the hazard of perpetual executive rule, in July, our General Assembly did the right thing and passed a law that limited many of the Governor’s core emergency powers to 180-days only.

And how did Governor McKee respond?

He did not follow the law and seek the General Assembly’s waiver from the 180-day limit. Rather, in August, he sought to skirt the law by declaring a “new” COVID emergency, to give himself a new 180-day period to govern us by executive order.

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It is lawless, and the uncomfortable truth is that most of Governor McKee’s recent executive orders are unlawful.

No matter our opinion about how to address the pandemic, and there are many differing ones, I understand that, we cannot abandon the rule of law and our constitutional separations of powers. It is destructive to society and will have long-term consequences.

We continue to call for the General Assembly to exercise meaningful oversight of the Governor’s COVID response, and to ensure that the law is followed.

Another uncomfortable truth is that Rhode Island is not living up to its potential, and hasn’t for a long time.

We hold on so tightly to the past — and to entrenched special interest groups — that we miss out on our future.

We are smack in the middle of one of the wealthiest regions on earth, yet we’re stagnant; our best and brightest leave to find opportunity; our seniors move for financial security, and we don’t enjoy real transformative investment.

Rhode Island’s hope for a prosperous future passes us by, and we must take concrete action to right the ship.

However, everything we do — every great idea, all the fancy speeches — mean nothing if we don’t prepare the next generation of Rhode Islanders to be highly educated, critically-thinking citizens.

Education is the rock upon which great societies are built. It is a civil rights issue that, more than anything, will determine our future.

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Yet, the hard truth is that we are failing generations of Rhode Islanders — predominantly in struggling communities.

The state took over the Providence school system after decades of failure, and had the opportunity to set a new course, to make fundamental changes.

Instead, Governor McKee inked a new teacher contract with no meaningful reforms. Status quo — the old way. Children Second.

We love our teachers. We love our students. And because we expect greatness from them both, we must provide opportunities to achieve excellence in education.

Republicans have proposed transformational plans to allow parents the choice to get their children out of failing schools, and into school systems that will build strong adults.

To the many decision makers who oppose our plans: if you fail to offer your own concrete solutions to this crisis, you are part of the problem, you hold on to the past at the expense of our children’s future.

Education in our state can be saved, but only if we exercise the political will to do so.

We must also face the uncomfortable truth that we have a self-inflicted medical provider crisis.

In 2018, one of the best, well-funded hospital groups in the world, Partners Healthcare, had a deal to buy our struggling Care New England hospital group — to enter the Rhode Island healthcare marketplace — with the latest and greatest technology, and massive capital investment.

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Lifespan and Brown University lobbied the Raimondo administration, who then killed the Partners deal so Lifespan and Brown could instead scoop up Care New England — and control over 80% of healthcare delivery in this state.

80% is a veritable healthcare monopoly that is a prescription for disaster, taking away medical choice and innovation from patients, and driving up costs.

And healthcare workers: you’ll be stuck at the only employer in town.

This scheme is more holding onto the old way of doing business — benefiting special interest groups — now at the cost of our health.

Thankfully, this monopoly must first be approved by our Governor and Attorney General, as well as the Federal Trade Commission.

To Governor McKee and Attorney General Neronha, do not approve this healthcare monopoly. Do not sacrifice our health to special interests!

Rhode Island must also move on from its past as a bad place for small business. We’ve all heard the tales of over-regulation and bureaucratic madness.

The truth is: Government regulation has largely been used by corporate America to consolidate — by squeezing out small businesses that can’t afford to compete. Think about that: Our own government unwittingly aids the destruction of our small business economy.

The same is true for our system of economic development in this state. The rich, and the politically connected, obtain handouts of taxpayer money, and the average business just can’t compete. These handouts are on the backs of every Rhode Islander, they add up, and hold us all down.

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We must remember that the only thing that is too big to fail is our system of free enterprise.

Our State Government must get out of the way, and secure free and fair markets, so that we can all compete on a level playing field, where small businesses can thrive, and which will lead to the ground up organic investment we need.

Otherwise, expect the continued growth of large corporations at the expense of our small business base.

While sticking its nose where it doesn’t belong, government’s core functions are neglected — and not just education.

  • Our Department of Children, Youth and Families is chronically understaffed, is without a director, can’t obtain national accreditation, and children are bounced around temporary homes across New England;
  • State Government has stood by while many of our cities and towns approach insolvency, putting everyone’s finances in jeopardy — and stunting the growth we need; especially in affordable housing;
  • We have so much opportunity! We’re located between Boston and New York, have stunning natural beauty, a great quality of life, a diverse, warm and inclusive population, deep water ports, integrated highway and train systems, top-notch universities, and now an international airport. People want to live here, if they can afford it. We have all the pieces in place to thrive!
  • Our power grid outages are an insult — with National Grid running the show;
  • Our department of Environmental management is underfunded;
  • And today, many children are being poisoned from lead in their drinking water.

Neighbors, Rhode Island needs to shed the past and set a new course, to live up to our potential, and seize the future.

We have so much opportunity! We’re located between Boston and New York, have stunning natural beauty, a great quality of life, a diverse, warm and inclusive population, deep water ports, integrated highway and train systems, top-notch universities, an now an international airport. People want to live here, if they can afford it. We have all the pieces in place to thrive!

Yet, instead of seizing the future, many Rhode Island leaders perpetuate divisive cultural issues, that consume and distract us, while important generational challenges are barely discussed — maintaining the status quo.

The truth is, in Rhode Island, it’s not about being a Democrat or Republican. It’s about those with power and influence who call the shots and always get ahead, versus those without power and influence who are always left to foot the bill and suffer the consequences.

Rhode Island Republicans promise to always call out those who abuse their power and influence, and to defend those that suffer it.

And I pray you’ll join us in this endeavor: because your involvement is the only way Rhode Island will ever achieve its potential.

Please — look to the future with hope, and know our state is worth fighting for.

Our path is ultimately your choice, Rhode Island, and I am confident we will choose wisely.

I thank you for your time, and Goodnight.

End of transcript.


Carlos Muñoz can be reached at carlos.munoz@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @ReadCarlos and on Instagram @Carlosbrknews.