Published 05/06/15

EMBARGOED for release until 12:01 a.m. May 7, 2015

Contact:  Dyana Koelsch / 401.415.0370 /

HIPL poll: 45 percent say R.I. headed in wrong direction but believe leadership will be stronger

SMITHFIELD, R.I. — While only 32.8% of Rhode Islanders feel the state is headed in the right direction, a majority of them are optimistic about the abilities of the new leadership, according to a new poll conducted for Bryant’s Hassenfeld Institute for Public Leadership by Fleming Associates. The survey of 402 Rhode Islanders was taken April 26-April 28. The poll showed 54.2% of those surveyed believed the newly elected state officials will be providing stronger leadership over the next few years.

See the complete poll (.pdf)

“This poll will be the first of three released by the Hassenfeld Institute over the next year. The objective of the polls is to inform decision-makers on the opinions of voting citizens on critical public policy issues,” said Gary Sasse, Founding Director of the Hassenfeld Institute.

Rhode Islanders believe several of the key elements of Governor Raimondo’s jobs creation agenda will be effective.

  • 59% believed targeted tax credits for business will create jobs;
  • 52.7% believed a state tourism campaign will create jobs;
  • 50.5% believed a $25 million incentive fund for economic development of vacant land in Providence will create jobs.

The student loan forgiveness and infrastructure bank were met with less confidence. Only 46.5% said student loan forgiveness for college students would create jobs, and only 37.3% thought the state infrastructure bank would work.

The poll also measured support for several key issues that will be considered by the General Assembly in the coming weeks. “There are critical issues that the General Assembly will be considering that impact Rhode Islanders in a variety of ways, from education to medical expenditures to minimum wage,” said Sasse. “There was a lot of support for many of these initiatives. One standout that was resoundingly rejected was the tax on health insurance to fund Health Source RI.”

  • 69.9% favor funding full day kindergarten;
  • 69.9 % favor reducing Medicaid costs by 10%;
  • 75.4% favor raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour;
  • 62.7% against taxing health insurance plans to fund Health Source RI.

Jobs continue to be the primary concern of Rhode Islanders.

When asked to identify what they thought is the MOST important problem in the state, 30.1% said job opportunities and 18.7% said taxes.

And despite the general optimism about the strength of new state leadership, 13.9% still said government corruption is the state’s biggest problem.

The poll is the first of three that the Hassenfeld Institute for Public Leadership and Fleming Associates will be conducting over the course of the year to track public opinion on key initiatives and leadership in the state. The next poll on public issues will be in the fall, and a poll in January 2016 will measure public opinion on how the state is doing on jobs and the economy.

About the Hassenfeld Institute for Public Leadership at Bryant University

The Hassenfeld Institute for Public Leadership provides public officials and others involved in the development, management, and execution of public policy with the tools and skills needed to make informed decisions and manage responsive organizations in order to govern and lead public sector and non-profit organizations effectively.