State House, Providence, RI – Education reform is a top priority for Rhode Island House freshman legislator, Representative Brian Rea (D53 – Smithfield/Glocester), and he is wasting no time in crafting legislation to meet the needs of Rhode Island students. To date, he has sponsored or co-sponsored several bills focused on education issues, and has personally founded and awarded two district scholarships to high school students who are looking to attend college or technical programs.
A few highlights from Representative Rea’s 2023 education legislative package:
H 5795—Rea sponsor: Educational Savings Accounts Program
The bill requires the General Treasurer, upon a request by a parent or guardian, to establish an education savings account to assist and support the parents, guardians and caretakers of students that wish to exercise a private educational choice. The account would cover the cost of private school tuition, materials, tutors, technology and other educational support for any student learning at home or at any other remote-learning site. The amount contributed and interest earned would be exempt from the state income tax.
H 5804—Rea sponsor: Expanded Tax Credits for Contributions to Scholarship Organizations
The bill would expand the scope and impact of the business tax credit for businesses that contribute to private education scholarships. Current law caps contributions to the program at $1.5M per fiscal year, which limits scholarship funding per year, leaving most eligible students out of the program. Additionally, each new student added is prioritized in the program to ensure their scholarship is annually maintained. The bill would expand the financial viability and capability of the program by increasing the aggregate business contribution to $5M in 2024 and then for each year afterwards, a set percentage increase in the allowable amount of contributions.
H 5817 – Rea Sponsor: Appropriation of Approximately $30,000,000 to Rhode Island Public Schools for Safety and Security Improvements
This resolution would authorize the appropriation of the sum of $100,000 to each public school in Rhode Island for school safety and security improvements.
H 5858—Rea co-sponsor: Failing School and Educational Choice Act
The bill creates open enrollment to any Rhode Island public school for students that attend a school identified by the Department of Education (RIDE) as a failing school (The bottom 15% for academic performance). The bill also establishes the education savings account program to allow parents, guardians, or caretakers to set up an educational account to pay for student for tuition, tutoring, technology, supplies and any other learning support measures or materials for students. The bill would be funded by revenue created from a statewide property tax on a private college’s endowment fund.
H 5472 – Rea co-sponsor: The Education Equity and Property Tax Relief Act
This act would increase the state’s regionalization bonus to six percent (6%) of the state’s fiscal year share of foundation education aid. This bonus would be ongoing and continuing so long as the district remains a regional school district.
“My dedication to education-based legislation is driven on the premise of our duty to provide a solid learning foundation for all Rhode Island students,” said Rea. “Recent reports and rankings have sadly demonstrated that we are letting our families down when it comes to public education in our state. Without a meaningful education, our children will not have the tools for Rhode Island to thrive, build a strong business environment and in turn, offer our residents a better quality of life. This is about our future. And the time to take thoughtful action is long overdue."
In addition to co-sponsoring a number of bi-partisan scholarship support bills, Representative Rea also created and personally funded the Striving Sentinel and Striving Chieftain Scholarships, awarded to honor the hard work of a student with an IEP or 504 which exhibits their drive and desire to persevere in higher education. The scholarships are $2,000 each and will be awarded at Senior Night in June.
House Minority Leader Michael Chippendale praises the efforts of the Caucus’ newest member, “Representative Rea has demonstrated a solid understanding of the contemporary challenges in education today. His efforts to spearhead education-based legislation, and his leadership role in bringing these solutions to the forefront have been a tremendous asset to the House Minority Caucus.”
The 2023 Rhode Island House of Representatives Minority Caucus (Republican) is comprised of the following elected members representing constituents who live in the following districts throughout the Ocean State: Minority Leader, Michael Chippendale, District 40 (Foster, Glocester, Coventry); Minority Whip David Place, District 47 (Burrillville, Glocester); Representative George Nardone, District 28 (Coventry); Representative Brian Newberry, District 48 (North Smithfield, Burrillville); Representative Robert Quattrocchi, District 41 (Scituate, Cranston); Representative Sherry Roberts, District 29 (Coventry, West Greenwich) Representative Brian Rea, District 53 (Glocester, Smithfield). For more information on the House Minority Caucus, please visit www.rihousegop.org
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