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Saturday, February 19, 2022

Rep. McEntee and Rep. Fogarty testified in favor of $50 million URI Narragansett Bay Campus budget bond

Stressed that $40 million more than that is needed

Reps. Fogarty and McEntee
At a meeting of the House Finance Committee held on February 8, Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee testified in favor of Article 5 in the FY 2023 state budget.  

The article relates to a $50 million general obligation bond to fund repairs and construct new facilities at the University of Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay Campus.  Representative McEntee was joined by Rep. Kathleen A. Fogarty (D-Dist. 35, South Kingstown) who also supported the bond proposal.

Both Representatives and the officials from URI that testified stressed to the committee that a $90 million bond was needed for URI to reach its true potential in oceanographic education and research.

If the article is approved by the General Assembly, the public will be asked to vote on whether to approve the bond or not.


“The Oceanography School at URI is one of our state’s greatest selling points but we are still just scratching the surface of what this state treasure is capable of achieving.  If one visits the Oceanography School, it is readily apparent that the labs and facilities are far beyond acceptable for a global research institution.  

"If we want to attract top-flight students, educators and companies on a global scale, we have to approve this bond and invest in URI.  This one-time infusion of funds will create immediate beneficial financial returns for URI and the state and it has the possibility of making URI one of the global leaders on oceanographic research and education.   With this funding, URI would be able to attract millions of dollars from grants and private companies, bringing new and existing industries to our state. 

"We have to spend money to make money and I cannot think of a more deserving institution to support that URI’s Oceanography School.  We cannot afford to miss this opportunity to put URI on the global map for this field and I urge the General Assembly to support this budget article,” said Representative McEntee.

“I work in the defense industry and so many of my colleagues came from URI’s engineering and other related programs.  These are high-paying quality jobs and when combined with other defense companies in the region such as Electric Boat, the need to invest in URI’s ability to educate and train these future employees becomes very important to our state’s economy.  This investment will pay dividends for generations to come in Rhode Island and I urge everyone to support this bond proposal,” said Representative Fogarty.

URI President Marc Parlange and Dean of the Oceanography School Paula Bontempi also testified before the Finance Committee in favor of the bond.  President Parlange stated that the inclusion of the proposed $50 million bond request has the potential to position Rhode Island and URI as a hub of economic activity that will support ocean-related industries, address climate change, support food security, and generate sustainable and transformative revenue for the state.  

Dean Bontempi told the committee that URI needs the facilities to be able to compete globally. She said that currently, that URI is forced to turn down grant opportunities valued in the tens of millions of dollars because they do not have proper or adequate facilities.  

She added that with the federal infrastructure funding, there will be more opportunities for tens of millions in grant opportunities becoming available for the institution if needed investments are made with the bond approval.

Representative McEntee, Chairwoman of the House Small Business Committee and a URI graduate, is an ardent supporter of the URI Graduate School of Oceanography.  The Narragansett Bay Campus is located within District 33, which Representative McEntee represents.  The main URI campus is located in District 35, represented by Representative Fogarty.