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Roberts: Rhode Islanders deserve interpreters

Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Roberts says that the state Constitution justifies the provision of interpreters to people seeking state benefits in Rhode Island.

Roberts made the statement during a taping this morning of WPRI/WNAC-TV's Newsmakers. While declining to offer a view when panelist Tim White asked her whether Governor Carcieri should apologize -- as Bill Lynch says he should -- for a related remark, Roberts says the Constitution calls for equal service for all Rhode Islanders.

The LG also talked up the healthcare initiative that she unveiled earlier this week. With Washington proving an unreluctant partner, at least for now, it's up to the states, Roberts says, to seek more efficient approaches for delivering healthcare. Chalie Bakst threw her a bouquet on this front yesterday:

It was a pleasure to see a politician go before an audience — at the University of Rhode Island’s Providence campus — and give a prepared, thematic address about something real, not just mouth slogans and sound bites.

More importantly, it was a pleasure to hear a leader speak in an upbeat way about the potential of government to be a constructive force in people’s lives.

Corruption and rumors of corruption sweeping through Democratic General Assembly halls have heightened voter cynicism.

Republican Governor Carcieri often portrays government as bloated, a threat to taxpayers.

Into this scene strides Democrat Roberts, a former state senator who is a newcomer to high office, striking a tone of intelligent idealism as she called for change that would allow the state to balance its budget and provide health care both the government and individuals could afford.

“I am not saying it will be easy, or that it will happen overnight,” she told an audience of health, business, political and academic figures. “But it can happen if we put aside the rancor, the posturing, the pandering, and the personal agenda and work together — the governor with the legislature … Medicaid with doctors and hospitals; health care providers with insurance companies; insurance companies with small businesses.”

She added, “Where is the vision? Rather than whittling away at our safety net and trimming at the edges of the personnel budget, we should be thinking about the long-term role of government.”

Roberts, 50, declared, “Everyone should have the care they need, when they need it, and in the most effective and low-cost setting.”

She warned, “Doing nothing about health care, standing still, waiting for someone else to lead, waiting for the winds of change to blow us in the right direction, risks the lives and the livelihoods of Rhode Islanders.”

Newmakers is broadcast Sunday at 5:30 am on Channel 12 (CBS), and at 10 am on Fox 64.

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