“We need broad, sweeping plans to help our neighbors survive this event. Instead, the House Speaker and Senate President are on Spring Break...”
Lenny Cioe, a Registered Nurse and Democratic challenger to Dominick Ruggerio in Senate District 4 (Providence, North Providence), released the following statement in response to leadership’s failure to convene the Rhode Island General Assembly:
“As a state and as a nation, we are facing one the biggest crises we have ever seen. We are being devastated, not only by a pandemic but by an economic crisis rivaling the Great Recession and even the Great Depression.
“At a time when all public leaders need to be communicating, the General Assembly has gone quiet. As reported in the Providence Journal (March 30th, 2020):
[House Speaker] Nicholas Mattiello is also social distancing on his Harley, catching up on his law practice and spending time with his family while [Senate President] Ruggerio has been dog-sitting for his daughter, who is a pharmacist.
“In a time of crisis, the General Assembly should be acting to mitigate the rough road ahead for countless Rhode Islanders. We need broad, sweeping plans to help our neighbors survive this event. Instead, the House Speaker and Senate President are on Spring Break.
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“Our state hospitals are facing a financial crisis while thousands of Rhode Islanders are losing their insurance coverage because of layoffs, putting countless lives at risk. The state is on course to lose many of its restaurants and small businesses – the backbone of our economy. Meanwhile, families can’t keep up with their rent and mortgages. We are looking at the real possibility of wide-spread evictions and foreclosures.
“We need to immediately expand Medicaid to raise the reimbursement rate to hospitals and cover every uninsured Rhode Islander. This is a crucial step towards guaranteeing our hospitals’ solvency while protecting the public health. People’s lives are at risk because their health care is at risk.
“We need to create a tax system to complement the federal stimulus package for small businesses by revising the tangible tax and overall structure. We should not tax family businesses like large corporations. At the same time, we must raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour to create economic empowerment for all our workers.
“We need to protect renters and homeowners by immediately placing a moratorium on rent and mortgage payments while developing a program for housing and rental assistance. As this crisis evolves, people are losing their health, their peace of minds, and their incomes. If we don’t act, they could lose their homes as well.
“The rebuilding of Rhode Island has to start right now. As a nurse, I would never abandon my patients. As a Civic leader I would never abandon our state. Sadly, our career politicians are abandoning all of us.”
Lenny Cioe is a Registered Nurse on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis. He is a 2003 graduate of the Community College of Rhode Island in respiratory therapy and a 2008 graduate of Rhode Island College where he received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Lenny has been a health care professional for 18 years.