Cicilline says getting RIers back to work is a priority

U.S. Rep. David Cicilline

U.S. Rep. David Cicilline said Friday that reducing Rhode Island's high unemployment rate is still a top priority for him.

At 9.2 percent for January, the state has the worst jobless rate in the country.

"There are a lot of folks finding for the first time in their lives that they're out of work," Cicilline said during a taping of "10 News Conference."

Cicilline, a Democrat, also commented on the recently expired extended benefits that Congress cut in December.

"There are already 2 million Americans, over 8,000 Rhode Islanders, who have lost unemployment insurance, and you have to be looking for work in order to receive unemployment. So, these are people who are out looking for work but can't find a job," Cicilline said.

Cicilline is pushing for an increase in the minimum wage and his earlier emphasis on Make it in America, a platform that has garnered bipartisan support helping manufacturers retool and retrain workers for a new economy.

"We make the best products in the world. We have the best workers in the world. People want to buy stuff made in America. But you go into a store and try to find something made in America it's almost impossible to do. A part of that is we have policies in Washington that undermine American manufacturing," Cicilline said.

Switching gears toward the city he once governed, the former Providence mayor reacted to redevelopment plans for the vacant landmark bank building at 111 Westminster St.

Its owner earlier this week talked about a renewed pitch to get financial help, possibly public funds, for the development of apartments and commercial space.

"This is a private venture. It's a private piece of property bought, and we should do everything we can to make it successful, like we want to make every building that someone invests in successful. But I think the government shouldn't be investing directly in the building in the kind of traditional way," Cicilline said.

Cicilline also confirmed that he is running for re-election this year.

His only announced opposition is Jonathan Maciel, who is running as an independent.