Sen. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND 12 a.m. EDT June 30, 2013 Democrat & Chronicle
Families in Rochester and all across New York are doing all they can to get ahead, and give their children a chance to go even further, but feel like they are just slipping behind.
Just here in Rochester, almost one in three are living in poverty. We need to do better — and fast. Our children deserve every opportunity to grow up in safe communities, get a quality education, and get on a path to achieve their God-given potential.
It starts with creating more good-paying jobs. Employment brings more than a steady income — it generates a sense of personal pride and responsibility to our community. We can do this through legislation I introduced called the Urban Jobs Act that connects more young people with promising career opportunities and job training.
And all that hard work needs to pay off. Rochester families and workers of all ages get up every day to bring home a hard-earned paycheck. It is simply unacceptable that under today’s minimum wage, a single parent working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year to support a family, earns just $290 a week. That’s $15,000 a year without any time off just to live below the poverty line for a family of three.
I introduced legislation that would raise the minimum wage to $10.10. This would give 120,000 workers in the Rochester-Finger Lakes Region — roughly 20 percent of our workforce — a chance to raise themselves into the middle class, and ignite new economic growth right here.
For that growth to carry on for years to come, our children need the right start today. We need to invest in initiatives like Head Start and universal pre-K that deliver quality child care, healthy food and other critical services to local families that can put our children on a strong path throughout their education so they can walk through the doors of our colleges and universities.
To get there, we need to equip our students with the skills they need in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) so they are not just meeting the demands of the new economy, but leading us there. With eight of the nine fastest-growing industries requiring proficiency in STEM, we are relying on these students to be the leaders and innovators of tomorrow. When we teach our third-graders to build a rocket and fifth-graders to build a robot, they will make the next major breakthrough that changes the world.
I’m proud to work with the Democrat and Chronicle and Unite Rochester to start now and reshape Rochester’s future.
Gillibrand, a Democrat, represents New York in the U.S. Senate.