Providence City Council President Luis Aponte today issued the following statement regarding the March 13 special meeting to schedule the recall election for Ward 3 Councilman Kevin Jackson:
“In compliance with the Providence City Charter, this matter was already on the docket for our regularly scheduled Council Meeting this Thursday, March 16th,” said Aponte. “The confusion around whether a special meeting was needed prior to that is a direct result of a conflict in state election laws and those laid out in the City Charter: state law requires a recall date to be set within 50 days of the signatures being certified, and the city charter provides for 60.” Aponte continued: “While I do question the somewhat harried intervention by the state while we were acting within the parameters of our Home Rule Charter to schedule this election, I certainly respect the process.”
The City Council on Thursday approved a resolution endorsing Governor Raimondo’s proposed expansion of the Rhode Island Promise Scholarship to provide every Rhode Island high school graduate with a two-year scholarship to an in-state public college or university.
The resolution was introduced by Council President Pro Tempore Sabina Matos (Ward 15), who lauded the proposal as a win for the state and its students: “The cost of higher education is an insurmountable barrier for so many families. Our high schools are full of talented young people eager to learn and achieve. Many of them dream of going to college but don’t have the financial resources to get there. This is their ticket to higher education, upward mobility, and economic security.”
Cracking the barrier to college, said Matos, can also have a tremendous impact on the state: “Cultivating a highly educated, highly skilled population is good for everyone. This proposal strengthens the state’s ability to retain its best young minds. Our state schools have so much to offer, and this is our chance to capitalize on that.”
Data suggests that an educated workforce is critical to economic development. According to the 2016 Rhode Island Kids Count Factbook, 71% of jobs in Rhode Island will require post-secondary education by 2020. Between 2010 and 2014 in Rhode Island, adults with high school diplomas were almost three times more likely to be unemployed as those with bachelor’s degrees or higher.
Councilman David Salvatore (Ward 14) will tonight introduce an ordinance amendment that, if approved, will establish a new Equal Pay Task Force for the City of Providence. The task force would study best practices from other municipalities, collect and analyze data from City departments and contractors, and advise the City Council and Mayor with policy recommendations that promote equal pay for equal work.
“It’s unacceptable that working women in America are not compensated for equal work,” said Salvatore. “Our government has a moral and ethical obligation to ensure all Americans are treated equally in the workplace.”
According to the Economic Policy Institute’s State of Working America Data Library, women who worked full-time and year-round in 2016 earned 20% less than their male counterparts. Salvatore hopes to position Providence as a leader in closing that gap: “The City of Providence should model the highest standards of wage equality. The Equal Pay Task Force would take a comprehensive look at what’s working in other cities across the country and help us find practical solutions to implement best practices.”
The seven-member panel would monitor employment data from the City’s vendors and develop new data collection procedures for companies seeking City subsidies. A streamlined process, said Salvatore, would minimize the burden on companies gathering and submitting the data. The panel would also be required to report its findings to the Human Relations Commission, City Council, and Mayor each year, and determine if legislation is needed to implement any recommendations.