Groups call on General Assembly to finish the people’s business

The Valley Breeze

PROVIDENCE – A diverse group of more than 20 religious and advocacy groups sent a letter to the Rhode Island General Assembly Friday, calling on lawmakers to come back into session to complete “critical business left unfinished at the abrupt end of the legislative session,” including the 2018 budget. They also urge reconciliation and passage of bills to disarm domestic abusers, guarantee earned sick days, adopt proven reforms to criminal justice, allow workers to form co-ops, reduce toxic substances, and protect health care.

“Every day that goes by without a budget makes it harder to have a good revenue and spending plan for 2018,” said Rachel Flum, executive director of the Economic Progress Institute. “We’re glad to hear there is movement toward coming back into session and urge leaders to keep those conversations going.”

The organizations said the delay in passing a budget has “real and mounting human costs” and that it will become increasingly difficult for local governments to make up lost revenue and implement savings, particularly in funding educational programs.

The groups also urged the House and Senate to reconcile differences and pass important bills that were left in limbo at the end of the session, despite versions being passed by both chambers. Without enacting these laws, “victims of domestic violence will be in mortal danger,” states a release. “Working parents will continue to need to choose between the job they need and the sick child they need to care for. Some Rhode Islanders ready to begin productive lives in the community will wait longer behind bars.”

“Despite popular support among lawmakers for legislation that affects hundreds of thousands of state residents, change is stalled until the General Assembly can come back together to complete their work,” said Georgia Hollister Isman, director of Rhode Island Working Families. “Based on what we have been hearing in the news, we’re hopeful the House and Senate will come back soon. Rhode Islanders really want that to happen.”

The letter is signed by:

Here’s a list of the groups that signed the letter:
The American Baptist Churches of Rhode Island
Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights
Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE)
Dorcas International Institute
Economic Progress Institute
Fuerza Laboral
Gloria Dei Lutheran Church
Mental Health Association of RI
Ministers Alliance of Rhode Island
Planned Parenthood of Southern New England
Progreso Latino
Religious Coalition for a Violence-Free Rhode Island
Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence
RI Community Action Association
RI Council of Churches
RI Jobs with Justice
RI Racial Justice Coalition
RI Regional Adult Learning (RIRAL)
RI Working Families
Sierra Club, Rhode Island Chapter
Step Up Center International
United Nurses and Allied Professionals (UNAP)