When she ran for governor, Rhode Island had the nation’s highest unemployment rate. The state had been the nation’s — arguably, the world’s — jewelry workshop, until much of the manufacturing decamped to China. The exodus included the Bulova watch company, which had employed 1,000, including her father, who became unemployed at 56. She wears a Bulova on her wrist but says that the main reason she ran for governor was that previous administrations had not repositioned Rhode Island for a changed world. She has done this by entrepreneurial federalism — making the state attractive to business, including the nation’s first offshore wind farm.
Raimondo has cut taxes every year and removed 8,000 pages of regulations — 30 percent of the state’s regulations. Economic dynamism has enabled her to raise the state minimum wage to $11.50, create a sick leave entitlement and finance the largest infrastructure program in the state’s history. Thanks to the G.I. Bill, her father, the son of a meat cutter, became the first in the family to go to college, and his daughter has delivered tuition-free community college.