Article courtesy of Urban Marketing News
The lights and cameras added to the spectacle of President Obama’s State of the Union address, but his message to the nation that night was simple: “Opportunity for all”. For years since the recession, working class people have struggled to keep their heads above water and feet like they can’t get ahead no matter how many jobs they have or extra hours they work. However as the economy starts to recover its time to think about what can be done to restore the belief that if you work hard and play by the rules you can get ahead.
The President made it clear that raising wages was key to the recovery and urged every state and city not to wait for Congress, but to do what was in their power to give America a raise. Leading by example, he announced he’d issue an executive order requiring federal contractors to pay their federally-funded employees a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour. In Wisconsin, we can start by giving a raise to the hundreds of thousands of people working minimum wage jobs. Right now, for workers making $7.25, taking care of a family is a lot harder than it has to be. A raise to $10.10 will create a wealth of opportunities for an estimated 230,000 workers across the state. That increase will mean an additional $5,900 per worker annually - real money that can give struggling households a chance to get back on track.
Ideas for raising wages in our state are gaining real momentum. This week, Democratic candidate for Governor Mary Burke announced her support for increasing Wisconsin's minimum wage to $10.10 an hour after talking to small business owners on the campaign trail. Burke supports modest, gradual increases in three stages over the next two years in order to strengthen the middle class. We can make sure that every Wisconsinite has an equal opportunity to succeed. The state’s projected budget surplus should be used to invest in strong public schools, create quality job-training programs, and make sure that higher education is an accessible and affordable path to the middle class.
Last year, governors all over the country - including Wisconsin- looked to score political points by rejecting billions in federal Medicaid dollars. It's not too late for us to put health before politics. Our legislature can still reverse the decision and accept federal funding that would insure 85,000 of the neediest Wisconsinites - giving them access to crucial health services at a much lower cost to the state. President Obama said that 2014 can be a breakthrough year for America, but we have to put real people above ideology. We have to think about creating opportunities for all - not just for some.
In the last three years, our state has seen leaders cater mainly to the individuals and corporations who make large campaign donations. At the same time, we’ve seen neighboring states like Minnesota grow their economy by asking the rich to pay their fair share and investing in the middle-class. Its time for us to follow suit and create opportunity for all Wisconsinites. People struggling day to day can’t afford for our state to fall farther behind on jobs, fair wages, health care, or education.