PRESS RELEASE  Senate Minority Office                          




STATE HOUSE, Providence, RI – Today, for the second time in barely a 6-month span, the Department of Administration conducted a hearing on Governor McKee’s request for pay raises for his cabinet directors.  In September, Governor McKee initially proposed raises of up to 43% for his cabinet but scaled back the amounts after facing criticism.  Now, the Governor is looking to raise salaries once again to bring directors closer to his original targeted salary increases.


“What has changed since September?” questioned Senate Minority Leader Jessica de la Cruz.  “Inflation is still stifling the ability of Rhode Island taxpayers to make ends meet.  Average Rhode Islanders can anticipate more staggering energy price hikes, increased interest rates have failed to cool demand for housing and have made home ownership more out of reach for many, and now the second-largest bank failure in U.S. history is adding to economic uncertainty.  But the Governor is still focused on raising salaries of highly paid political appointees.”


The McKee Administration defends these double-digit pay increases by comparing Rhode Island’s department directors’ salaries to those in other states. Senate Minority Whip Gordon Rogers responded, “Should we not also compare Rhode Island’s budget, population, and government effectiveness to those in other states? The Governor’s proposed budget increased despite his campaign rhetoric that it would not. And average hard-working Rhode Islanders are left to pay the price.


“The Senate Minority caucus has submitted several pieces of legislation to return money to the taxpayers. Each of those proposals have been met with the question of how does the state make up the cost of revenue,” stated Leader de la Cruz.  “Items that increase spending, such as substantial pay raises for top employees, warrant the same amount of scrutiny.”


President Biden says the American-Israeli dual national citizen released from Gaza on Wednesday is "safe." Biden told reporters as he was boarding Air Force One to head home from Colorado that she was safe in Egypt, and that he spoke with her mother and father. She was one of 16 hostages released from Gaza Wednesday, ten of which were released in exchange for 30 Palestinian prisoners before the truce between Israel and Hamas is set to expire.        Secretary of State Antony Blinken will return to Israel and the West Bank this week with the goal of extending a temporary ceasefire in Gaza. While speaking from NATO's headquarters in Brussels today, Blinken said extending the pause will allow more hostages to get out and more humanitarian aid to get into the Gaza Strip. It will be Blinken's third trip to the region since Hamas launched a brutal attack on Israel in early October.        House Republicans are ramping up their impeachment inquiry into President Biden. Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer told reporters today several committees will interview members of the Biden family and their associates over the next few months. He said he'd welcome Hunter Biden to testify publicly at a future date.        Paul Whelan's brother says the detainee was attacked by another inmate at a Russian prison labor camp. David Whelan wrote to The Hill in an email that his brother was working at a sewing table when a prisoner blocked the production line, and attacked Whelan when he asked him to move. The other prisoner hit Whelan in the face and broke his glasses.        Gasoline prices have dropped for 61 consecutive days across the United States. The average price for a gallon of regular gas stood at three-dollar-twenty-five cents a gallon Wednesday, according to Triple-A. That's down five cents from a week ago and 26 cents from a month ago.        The FBI says an agent was carjacked in Washington D.C. Wednesday afternoon. The incident took place near Capitol Hill, with the victim saying two suspects took the car. Police later found the vehicle.