A lifelong Rhode Islander, committed to its success
Gina Raimondo grew up in Smithfield in a tight-knit Italian-American family, the youngest of Joseph and Josephine Raimondo’s three children. Gina’s family history and her childhood experiences shaped her core beliefs in hard work, opportunity for all, and the importance of financial security.
After arriving from Italy at age 14, her grandfather learned English studying in the Providence Public Library, and later lived with Gina’s family. Her father is a World War II Navy veteran from a family of butchers who was first in his family to attend college on the GI Bill. After working for 26 years at Bulova watch factory in Providence, her father lost his job, along with hundreds of others, when the factory moved overseas, and her family lost their sense of financial security.
As a teenager, Gina rode a RIPTA bus to LaSalle Academy in Providence, where she was valedictorian of her graduating class. Gina went on to graduate with honors from Harvard, where she was recognized as the top economics student in her class. She won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University where she earned a doctorate and met her husband Andy Moffit, and later graduated from Yale Law School. Gina clerked for US District Judge Kimba Wood, and served as founding employee and senior vice president at Village Ventures, a venture capital firm based in Williamstown, Massachusetts, that invested in high-growth start-up companies in at least 10 emerging cities across the country.
Yearning to be back in Rhode Island and closer to family, Gina co-founded Point Judith Capital and was involved in dozens of successful start-up companies, including Providence-based NABsys, a health science research company, and Narragansett Beer. As someone who helped to create over a thousand jobs, Gina knows that Rhode Island needs a government that invests in the areas that help grow our economy and lead to opportunity for all Rhode Islanders.
“She really understands the potential we have here in Rhode Island to grow the economy. She has a really great vision, but Gina also has the ability to execute on that vision.” -- Barrett Bready, CEO of NABsys, which now employs 50 people in Providence.
Gina and Andy are parents of two young kids, Ceci and Tommy, who attend Providence public schools and love to share beach days at Sand Hill Cove, as Gina has done since she was a child. Gina has been deeply involved in a number of local non-profits. She is Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of Crossroads Rhode Island, where she played a key role in launching a new homeless shelter for women. She also was a trustee at Women and Infants Hospital and Chair of its Quality Committee, and board member of Family Service of Rhode Island and LaSalle Academy.
“She’s brilliant and she also has a huge heart. She’s tenacious. She sees a problem and says, ‘Get out of the way, let’s solve it and it’s done…” – Anne Nolan, executive director of Crossroads Rhode Island, Providence Journal, April 2011.
After reading a news article in late 2009 about further cuts to public libraries due to state budget difficulties, Gina decided to run for public office for the first time. In November 2010, Gina was elected to serve as General Treasurer of Rhode Island, receiving the largest number of votes of any statewide candidate.
A progressive and innovative approach to pension reform
When Gina took office as General Treasurer, she confronted the state’s $7 billion unfunded pension liability, which was among the highest per capita in the nation. Left unaddressed, the pension crisis threatened to overwhelm the state budget, requiring significantly higher taxes and further cuts to important public services.
Gina drew on personal life lessons to guide her thinking on how to reform the system to provide retirement security. Given her father’s experience in losing his job at Bulova, and then seeing Central Falls’ retirees lose much of their pensions, ensuring retirement security for state employees and retirees, and financial sustainability, became her top priorities as Treasurer.
“She has come at pension reform from a progressive angle…Her argument for change was rooted in her biography…” – Time Magazine, December 2011
Gina led a comprehensive effort to study the decades-old problem of pensions, leading to the publication of a widely-shared report “Truth in Numbers”, which found that required increases in taxpayer contributions to the pension fund would continue to require cuts to important public services like schools, social services and infrastructure. The underfunded system also placed an unfair burden on younger public employees and teachers, and there was a risk that fund would run out of money in not too distant future.
In other words, the progressive case for tackling bankrupt public sector pensions rests on the idea that government has obligations to the future as well as the past.” – Time Magazine, December 2011
To develop a solution that was secure, sustainable and affordable, Gina created a pension advisory group including national pension experts and representatives from organized labor, which submitted comprehensive legislation to the General Assembly. [O1]
Rhode Island Retirement Security Act of 2011, which passed with overwhelming bi-partisan support in both chambers of the General Assembly, has been hailed as national model. It reduced the state’s unfunded liability by about $3 billion, saved Rhode Island taxpayers about $4 billion over two decades, ensured that future pension costs are predictable and sustainable, and most importantly, it secured the retirements of public employees and retirees for the future. Because of pension reform, Rhode Island now is poised to make investments in its future- in its economy, education and infrastructure, which are key to the state’s success.
The courage to think big and get things done
Although the passage of pension reform has been widely hailed, Gina also has worked across state government and the community on wide variety of important issues, including efforts to:
- Increase transparency in Treasury, including launching the state’s first online investor relations portal that allows people to search the web for everything from state budgets and bond offerings to pension information.
- Build a set of financial empowerment programs to move families forward – from the free, community-based Financial Coaching Corps to the state’s first web-based interactive high school financial literacy program, her financial education efforts have reached over 3,000 Rhode Islanders from across the state in just two short years.
- Eliminate a 900-claim backlog in the Crime Victims Compensation Fund, which provides compensation for things like medical expenses and loss of earnings in order to help victims of violent crime rebuild their lives.
- Lead successful legislative effort to expand compensation for victims, including victims of domestic violence for relocation expenses. By coming together with the community we are finding ways to keep families safe.
- Take on gun distributors by leading the charge to divest the state pension fund from holdings in companies which distribute firearms.
- Stand up to predatory payday lenders, who exploit the most vulnerable Rhode Islanders, through her leadership in the coalition promoting common-sense legislation
- Strongly advocate for marriage equality in the successful grass-roots and legislative effort
- Create a municipal road and bridge revolving fund. By implementing this innovative and cost-saving alternative for cities and towns to finance their road and bridge improvements and create jobs.
“This creative program expansion is appealing because everyone benefits: municipalities, taxpayers, workers and businesses.” – Armand Sabitoni, general secretary-treasurer and the New England regional manager of the Laborers’ International Union of North America in a May 2013 opinion piece in the Providence Journal in support of the Municipal Road and Bridge Revolving Fund.
- Work to attract and recruit companies to come and expand their operations in Rhode Island.
“DePasquale has said state General Treasurer Gina Raimondo was instrumental in getting him to consider a company move to Rhode Island.” – Providence Journal, December 2013, story on Utilidata, a Providence technology company that worked with electric utility companies. As of December 2013, the company was growing and had 36 employees and interns and 11 job openings.