Rep. Morales introduces legislation to fund behavioral health in Providence schools


STATE HOUSE — In anticipation of layoffs in the Providence Public Schools, Rep. David Morales has introduced a bill to generate revenue to fund behavioral health staff in public schools.

IN PHOTO: Rep. David Morales at a recent rally in support of university accountability.
“While the endowments of top private universities have increased tenfold, public schools in Providence are struggling to provide the social and emotional support our youth who live in the city of Providence need to succeed,” said Representative Morales (D-Dist. 7, Providence). “This fall Providence Public Schools is projected to lose much-needed social workers and behavioral specialists due to budget constraints. Yet at the same time we have private universities boasting endowments in the billions. Therefore, it is clear that there are high levels of inequity in our education system right here in the city of Providence and for that reason I am proud to introduce an endowment tax that will support behavioral health services in our public schools.”

Last week Providence Public Schools notified nearly 60 educators that they will not have their contracts renewed. The majority of these positions are school counselors, physical education and health teachers.

This bill (2024-H 7546) would institute a tax on the endowment of private universities of 2% of each dollar the endowment exceeds $1 billion. The revenue generated by this tax would be distributed to the municipality where the private university in located, where it would be used to hire and retain behavioral health staff in public schools, including social workers, psychologists and other behavioral health specialists. Sen. Tiara Mack (D-Dist. 6, Providence) has introduced companion legislation (2024-S 2564) in the Senate.

Representative Morales recently joined with education reform advocates and supporters for a rally outside of the State House to support this bill and others designed to hold private universities accountable to the city of Providence and the state of Rhode Island.

 “As a representative here in the city of Providence and as an alumnus of Brown University, it is clear to me that high levels of inequity exist in our education system here in Providence,” said Representative Morales. “This bill would generate about $8 million on an annual basis directed to our local school district to fund and support the hiring and retention of social workers and behavioral health specialists, helping to somewhat reduce those inequities.”

The bill was heard by the House Finance committee Tuesday, where community members came out to support it. It was held for further study for the committee to review testimony.



South Florida is starting to dry out. Governor Ron DeSantis says more rain is on the way, but he believes it will be closer to regular afternoon showers that residents usually experience this time of year. DeSantis had declared a state of emergency earlier in the week as the rains flooded streets and stranded drivers. Damage assessments are still underway.        Trump's claims of presidential immunity will be decided later. The Supreme Court did not issue a ruling on the consequential case today, but may do so on June 20th when its next opinions are released. The case impacts some of Trump's pending cases, including his alleged attempts to overturn 2020 presidential election.       Kate, Princess of Wales, says she is making "good progress" in her treatment for cancer. In a rare statement Friday, the British royal said she is still undergoing chemotherapy and that she has "a few more months" of treatment remaining. She also announced that she will be attending a military parade Saturday to mark King Charles the Third's birthday.        A U.S. attack sub and a Canadian navy ship are arriving in Cuba, right on the heels of Russian warships. The U.S. Southern Command confirmed the USS Helena arrived at Guantanamo Bay Thursday, saying it's part of a previously planned routine visit. The arrival of a Russian frigate and submarine at the Havana Port has been seen as a show of force by the longtime ally of Cuba, but both the U.S. and Cuba said it posed no threat        Pope Francis is praising the value of humor with a group of world famous comedians. The pontiff met with Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert, Whoopi Goldberg, Chris Rock and Conan O'Brien at the Vatican. He told the group that they have the power to spread peace and smiles, when there is so much gloomy news.        The CDC is warning about a salmonella outbreak in at least nine states that's linked to pet bearded dragons. The CDC says at least 15 people, including four in New York, have contracted salmonella with symptoms including diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps. Four have been hospitalized.