RI voters to decide $248 million in spending

A $15 million bond issue for Roger Williams Park Zoo will be on the November ballot.

There is no shortage of projects in Rhode Island, but the question becomes how to pay for them.

Some items are included in the state budget, an $8.7 billion spending plan voted on by the legislature and signed by the governor.

But other desirable and worthwhile investments are put to the people of Rhode Island, who decide whether to spend the money. And this year, lawmakers put requests for $248 million before the voters in the form of four separate bond questions.

These are bonds the state will be obligated to pay back -- not like 38 Studios, and not in the expectation that the bills will be paid with money from a new video game. Taxpayers will be responsible, if they pass them.

The biggest request -- $125 million -- is for a new engineering school at the University of Rhode Island. A further advance for the state's university that has seen millions invested in recent years.

Then there's a plan to split the RIPTA bus hub in Kennedy Plaza to two other locations at a cost of $35 million.

A bond for the creative and cultural economy would invest $35 million into fixing up theaters and supporting WaterFire Providence.

Finally, for clean water, open space and healthy communities, the request to voters is for $53 million: $15 million for Roger Williams Park Zoo and $3 million to refurbish the park itself.

It will be the voters who decide how smooth the waters in the park will be in the future.