McKee, Kalus feud over test scores and tax returns

Rhode Island’s governor and his election challenger feud over tax returns and the timing of when standardized test scores are released.

Republican Ashley Kalus questions the RICAS test results being released after Election Day.

Gov. Dan McKee, a Democrat defends it, even as the state has the raw test result data.

The governor said last week that the test information was not ready, but acknowledged “it doesn’t take a rocket scientist” to understand test scores will be low because of COVID.

“If there was no Nov. 8, this would be no issue,” McKee said Monday.

But there is an election that day, and the RICAS test results are not expected until shortly after it.

In the past few years the results have been released in mid- to late-October and once in late November.

Asked by NBC 10 on Monday if he asked the Rhode Island Department of Education to hold on to the test results until after the election, McKee replied, “Absolutely not. The scores are going to come out when they’re ready. Not before they’re ready or after they’re ready.”

McKee is defending saying at a debate last week that “the information is not ready.”

The Department of Education says in a statement that the raw data has to go through several steps before being released, like quality control and making it more easily understandable, and that the information is confidential at this point, not to be shared, even with the governor.

“What I stated at that time is what I knew to be true,” McKee says.

“It’s either incompetence or not being honest. Both are very bad,” Kalus told NBC 10 News on Monday.

She is trying to hammer McKee on it.

“All we see is a bunch of excuses and the reality is the governor looked Rhode Islanders in their eyes on a TV debate and lied to them,” Kalus said of McKee’s debate response.

Tying it into another campaign issue, Kalus said last week that she would release her tax returns when McKee released the test scores and any subpoenas his administration has received in the ILO school contract investigation, but now says she’ll release her returns within the next two days.

“I don’t think they’re particularly interesting. I’m sure the governor is very interested. He seems to have some sort of TMZ obsession with me because the reality is he can’t run on his record,” Kalus said of her taxes.

“I think the people do have a right to know whether she’s ever paid any taxes in Rhode Island,” McKee said Monday.

“The reason that my opponent showed up in Rhode Island was money. It was a COVID contract. She paid herself more money in a week than an average resident makes in a year,” McKee added, referring to a COVID testing contract Kalus’s company had with the state that ended on poor terms.

Kalus had come from Illinois last year.

Her campaign says her taxes, which were filed after an extension, were filed in Rhode Island.