3 statewide bond questions on ballot

Three statewide questions on the Nov. 8 ballot will ask voters in Rhode Island to authorize $400 million in bonds to improve schools and protect the environment.

The first question asks for $100 million “for repairs and to construct new facilities on the University of Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay Campus in support of the educational and research needs for the marine disciplines.”

The second question would authorize $250 million “to provide funding for the construction, renovation and rehabilitation of the state’s public schools.”

The third question, dubbed the Green Bond, is a nine-part referendum totaling $50 million.

It includes $16 million to help municipalities restore and improve resiliency of vulnerable coastal habitats, floodplains and infrastructure. Administered by Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank, this investment in the Municipal Resilience Program will subsidize matching grants up to 75 percent to directly support the 39 cities and towns to identify top hazards, improve resiliency and strengthen public safety in the face of increased flooding and more frequent, intense storms driven by climate change.

Since 2019, the program has provided grants to implement 35 priority projects across 27 municipalities. North Kingstown, for example, was given $25,000 to mitigate the impacts of the stormwater flow by removing unnecessary pavement and installing grass, a sediment forebay and a sand filter on the road to Wickford Cove.

The bond also would appropriate $3 million for watershed protection of Narragansett Bay. Distributed as matching grants, “this infusion will advance work” to restore and protect water quality, aquatic habitats and the environmental sustainability of the state’s watersheds, according to the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management.

The referendum also would invest $3 million to acquire land to protect open space and $2 million in matching grants to improve existing community parks and recreation facilities. Also, $5 million would be earmarked to help small businesses upgrade their operations by providing grants and economical loans to implement green projects that create clean energy.

“The program will save small businesses money, increase energy efficiency, and reduce their carbon footprint,” says the agency.

The remainder would include $12 million to build “a state-of-the-art, carbon-neutral education center and event pavilion” at Roger Williams Park Zoo, $3 million for forestry restoration at state management areas, $4 million to clean brownfields and $2 million to a matching program for a local land acquisition.