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Progressive States Network On The State Of The Union: States Taking Action To Secure Real Prosperity For All

01/29/2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 29, 2014

PROGRESSIVE STATES NETWORK ON THE STATE OF THE UNION: STATES TAKING ACTION TO SECURE REAL PROSPERITY FOR ALL

National group of state lawmakers react to the President's State of the Union address

Washington, DC -- Legislator members of the Progressive States Network, which works to advance a shared progressive agenda in the states, made the following remarks in response to the President's State of the Union address.

Nebraska State Senator Jeremy Nordquist said, "In his address, President Obama confronted major questions about the future direction of our country -- especially whether we will have an economy that works for everyone or just the rich and powerful few. I applaud the President for lifting up common sense solutions to secure real prosperity for all Americans, no matter how wealthy they are, where they live, or what they look like. As a state lawmaker who has long been working towards the same goals, I know that these policies -- like a higher minimum wage for workers under federal contracts -- will go a long way toward improving our constituents' lives while making the economy stronger as a whole."

Iowa State Senator Joe Bolkcom, the Chair of PSN's Board of Directors, affirmed that "it's time to raise the minimum wage -- across the states. It's time to reward hard work and support our working families. Just as the economic problems facing our country didn't happen by accident, solving them won't happen unless we take strategic action -- state by state, issue by issue."

For Wisconsin Senate Democratic Minority Leader Chris Larson, the President's speech highlighted that call to action. "I feel more hopeful about the future of America after the President's speech. On issues ranging from addressing climate change to ensuring access to health care for all citizens, we have made great progress as a country. At the same time, we must do more to address income inequality, take up immigration reform, ensure our troops coming home from war are taken care of, and much more." He also noted that underlying our shared priorities is a broken campaign finance system and the fight to protect Americans' right to vote. "If we, as a country, do not call for fixing the blatant legalized bribery that our current political system encourages and if we continue to give a free pass to voter suppression schemes, we will only continue to be in danger of losing our great democracy," said Senator Larson.

Connecticut State Representative Gary Holder-Winfield, the sponsor of the nation's first state TRUST Act that reined in flawed deportation policies, commented that fixing our immigration system, with a real deal on citizenship, should be among the top priorities for the country. But that's not all. "Whether it's bringing immigrants into the fold of American life, investing in our public schools and clean energy future, or putting millions more Americans back to work, state legislators are ahead of the curve. Although the action is increasingly shifting to the states, we've long been tackling these challenges head-on -- even as we watch for federal policymakers to make their move. We look forward to a continued partnership with our federal counterparts in Washington, but at the same time, we won't wait to press forward on our shared agenda."

Taking a step back from the policy details, lasting themes about our defining values and priorities as a nation emerged from the speech, said Rhode Island State Senator Gayle Goldin. "Ultimately, our work comes down to our shared vision for our country -- an America where even those who will never become rich or powerful can live with dignity and respect. These are the same values and goals that drive us in our work. Like the President said, we're no longer living in the era of 'Mad Men.' As one of the sponsors of Rhode Island's new paid family leave law, I thank the President for acknowledging the importance of leaving outdated workplace policies behind and highlighting the need to fix the gender wage gap and the benefits of paid leave policies for our whole economy.  We are working on these important policies at the state level, but we must take bold action across our nation. The President is right: reducing income inequality is a key component to the strength of our country. Let's get this done."

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Progressive States Network is a national, non-partisan, non-profit organization that engages and builds the capacity of state and national leaders to advance solutions that uphold America’s promise to be a just and equitable democracy. PSN envisions a prosperous and inclusive America powered by thriving democracies within each state.

Contact: Kate Oh (202) 905-2835,  Progressive States Network, koh@progressivestates.org