Democrat Raimondo calls Fung economic approach 'wrong-headed'; compares him to ex-governor


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PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gina Raimondo on Thursday compared her Republican opponent's economic plan to that of former Gov. Don Carcieri, calling it "wrong-headed" to expect job growth from tax and spending cuts.

The treasurer made the comments about Cranston Mayor Allan Fung after a campaign event at Planned Parenthood.

"We've tried Mayor Fung's approach. It's called Gov. Carcieri," she told reporters. "It led to cuts and a terrible economy. And it's time for a new approach, investing in growth."

Pressed on the comparison to the ex-governor, Raimondo said of Fung: "I'm saying his economic philosophy, which is one of cut social services, cut government and cut taxes and you'll automatically have job growth, is a wrong-headed economic theory. It's not working. It hasn't worked."

Carcieri, a Republican who served two terms as governor, presided over a sharp decline in Rhode Island's economy that began before the Great Recession.

He also was a key proponent of the failed 38 Studios deal. Former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling's video game company got a $75 million state-backed loan, then went bankrupt. The state remains on the hook for some $89 million related to the deal.

Fung has a $200 million tax-reduction plan that he maintains will lead to economic growth. Campaign spokesman Rob Coupe said Thursday that Fung has a record as mayor of making "responsible decisions" to reduce spending and balance budgets without raising taxes. He has created jobs in Cranston and would do the same as governor, Coupe said.

"While Mayor Fung is asking all voters to support his plans to turn around the state's economy, Treasurer Raimondo seeks to divide Rhode Islanders again, this time with a preposterous comparison — that is not leadership," he said in a statement.

In a GOP primary debate in June, Fung, who has been critical of the 38 Studios deal, gave Carcieri a letter grade of C for his time in office. The former governor served on Fung's gubernatorial exploratory committee.

Raimondo has said repeatedly on the campaign trail that Rhode Island will not cut — or tax — its way out of what she calls the "jobs crisis." She says the state has to grow its way into recovery. She is pledging to oversee a rebirth of manufacturing in the state, which for years has had one of the country's worst jobless rates.

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