GOP's Fung wants state to help pay for officers in schools

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CRANSTON, R.I. (AP) — Republican gubernatorial candidate Allan Fung on Monday announced that he wants the state to chip in millions of dollars more for school security, and said he could pay for his proposals in part by cutting the Democratic-dominated Rhode Island General Assembly's budget.

Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo's campaign responded by saying the plan would put more guns in schools and not make children safer.

Fung made the announcement during the second news conference he's held since launching his run for governor in 2017. He put forward two proposals: One to help districts pay for school resource officers or police details, and another to pay for security upgrades in individual schools.

Fung, the mayor of Cranston, said his plan would pay for 50 percent of the cost of resource officers or police details at all of the state's 306 schools. He said he would put forward legislation that would allow retired officers and military police to work those jobs, and estimated the cost to the state at more than $12 million. The money to pay for it, will come from the budget for the Legislature, which he said was "growing out of control," and from cuts in other state departments.

A spokesman for House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello did not immediately return a message seeking comment Monday evening.

Fung also proposed making every school eligible for $30,000 in security upgrades, regardless of its size. Asked whether that would be fair given that different schools have different populations and sizes, Fung said it would be.

"It's fair to all," Fung said. "Every school in Rhode Island deserves an opportunity for dollars."

That one-time program would cost approximately $9 million and would be paid for from the School Building Authority's Capital Fund, he said.

Raimondo campaign spokesman Mike Raia issued a statement saying Fung's proposal would "put armed guards in every school," and highlighting Raimondo's work to strengthen the state's gun laws.

"Allan Fung is showing once again that he shares Donald Trump's values, not Rhode Island's," Raia wrote.

Fung also said he supports a statewide $250 million school bond question that will appear on ballots Nov. 6, an initiative that Raimondo has been pushing to finance the first phase of her $1 billion school construction plan. Raimondo last week criticized Fung for not doing more to fix school buildings in his city.

Fung said Raimondo's attacks were unfair, and that some of the problems in Cranston schools have been due to infrastructure issues, such as a bad Providence Water line that burst and flooded an elementary school in the winter.

After the news conference, Fung was asked whether the FBI should investigate sexual misconduct allegations against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Fung did not answer that question, but replied "I'm glad that there's appropriate Senate vetting, that they stopped and made sure that there's going to be an opportunity for the accusers to be heard, both of them, before they make a final decision on that."

As of Monday afternoon, when Fung spoke, only one of Kavanaugh's accusers had been invited to speak before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. A Fung spokesman did not immediately return messages seeking clarification on Fung's comment.

Raia said in a statement that Raimondo "believes these are serious and credible allegations and that the FBI must look into them before the Senate takes any action."


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