Reproductive rights are in danger in Rhode Island. Most members of the legislature, including the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate, oppose a woman's right to choose, and NARAL Pro-Choice America gives us a D+ rating on reproductive justice. No other blue state has a rating so low. We oppose all attempts to chip away at these vital freedoms, including the right to terminate a pregnancy. We support contraception, sex education, and maternity and paternity leave.
Rhode Island is one of the few blue states to lack a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines, despite wide popular support. The Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate both have A ratings from the NRA, and they each took thousands of dollars of illegal campaign cash from the controversial gun lobby. The chief lobbyist for the gun lobby in our state is former House Speaker Bill Murphy, a conservative Democrat. Despite these odds, we will keep fighting for extremely basic reforms: a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines, a patch to the local loophole in our may issue concealed carry law, and a simple registry of firearms. Our ultimate goals are the same common-sense gun safety legislation that successfully puts a stop to the body count in nearly every other first-world country.
Even though the Chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee begged them not to, Rhode Island Democrats passed a voter ID law in 2011, turning our state into a beloved talking point for national Republicans. Repealing this law is one of our top priorities. Usually passed by Republicans, voter ID laws disenfranchise predominantly liberal voters, especially minorities, students, and women. A blue state like ours should have no part in this shameful campaign to limit the right to vote. In fact, we should be making voting easier, not harder. We support same-day registration, early voting, and an end to long lines at the polls. Because it excludes primaries and General Assembly races, our public financing system is effectively useless. We support instituting a functional system, along the lines of the very successful New York City model.
After George Bush passed sweeping income tax cuts for the rich at the federal level, Rhode Island Democrats passed even steeper and more regressive cuts to our state's income tax, dropping the top rate from 9.9% to 5.99%. To pay for these tax cuts for the wealthy, they slashed the budgets of cities and towns around the state, forcing steep property tax hikes on small businesses and middle class families. We support a full repeal of the income tax cuts for the rich.
Workers' rights are under attack in Rhode Island. In a flagrant violation of Article One, Section 10 of the United States Constitution, the General Assembly ripped up tens of thousands of state workers' contractually protected pension plans, denying workers the dignity of the secure retirement that had been promised. We support a full repeal of this odious law. We also support card check, collective bargaining, and binding arbitration.
Medicare for All
Approximately one third of every dollar spent for health care goes to administrative expenses – primarily caused by our present system's multiple private health insurance companies. These companies made sure that the federal Affordable Care Act cannot control skyrocketing premiums, co-pays and deductibles. These companies will continue to “ration care” by limiting available coverage and providers – leaving far too many Americans uninsured and underinsured. A recent study by Professor Gerald Friedman, Chair of the UMass Amherst Economics Department, concluded that these problems would be solved by a Rhode Island Medicare for All program, in which the state would offer comprehensive health care coverage for all Rhode Islanders.