The two top Democrats who lead the Rhode Island General Assembly are taking opposing views on Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo’s plan to provide in-state students with two years of free tuition at public colleges.
House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello and Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed discussed the proposal last week at a Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
Mattiello says Rhode Island must be careful about being an outlier because it doesn’t have the strongest economy. He says the focus should be improving failing K-12 schools. He also doubts free tuition will get students graduating more quickly.
Paiva Weed says she and Mattiello feel differently. She says it’s wrong to think of the tuition proposal as an entitlement program. Of public education, Paiva Weed says, “It’s not K-12; it’s pre-K to 14.”
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