The change comes after General Treasurer Seth Magaziner released guidance showing the state has capacity for additional borrowing for economic stimulus. Bonds, a commonly used tool to stimulate the economy, can provide an immediate infusion of cash into the economy while other state funding is constrained by COVID-19 relief efforts. By borrowing now, while interest rates are at historic lows, Rhode Island can make investments that will promote economic recovery, community resiliency, and equity across the state.
"As we look to build a more resilient and equitable Rhode Island beyond this pandemic, it's critical that we make significant, long-term investments in our future," said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. "These updated bond proposals reflect the urgency of this moment and our need to spur economic growth and create jobs while supporting communities hit hardest in our state."
The Housing and Infrastructure Bond, which the new proposal increases from $87.5 million to $310.5 million, includes a $40 million increase in the Housing and Community Revitalization Fund for a total of $65 million. This program, aimed at increasing both the quantity and quality of affordable housing and community spaces in Rhode Island, will support the design, development, or repair of approximately 2,000 housing units across the state. Additionally, the bond will fund a competitive grant process which will prioritize financing for projects that help communities recover from the economic and health impacts of COVID-19. These investments will help provide stability for families, communities, and municipalities as they recover from the economic effects of the pandemic.
The remaining $183 million increase in the Housing and Infrastructure Bond will help to build infrastructure that will make Rhode Island more economically competitive. $35 million will go towards industrial reshoring and site preparation for offshore wind projects; along with an additional $11 million for the growth and modernization of the Port of Davisville at Quonset, this increased borrowing will allow Rhode Island to remain the nation's leader in the growing offshore wind industry. $30 million of the updated bond will continue the success of the RhodeWorks program in repairing Rhode Island's state roads, highways, and bridges. Finally, $107 million will be used to build a new health laboratory for disease prevention and management, which will improve Rhode Island's healthcare infrastructure and ensure that the state is fully prepared for any future pandemics.
The $5 million increase in the Beach, Clean Water and Green Bond will fund infrastructure development at the I-195 Park and additional funding for the state's recreation facilities, protecting our environment and investing in Rhode Island's essential tourism industry.