The most productive, innovative people I know are entrepreneurs who have had the courage to turn an idea in to a business that makes their community better, grows jobs and truly stands at the heart of America. The future of our state is in supporting the growth of small and mid-sized businesses that care about the place they are formed and the people they employ. For these businesses, we need to streamline regulations and reduce the impediments to their success.
Education is the key
One of the most substantial things we can do to promote success is to assure that our educational system produces graduates that are skilled and provides life-long training as the needs of employers and careers change. Providing a quality education to children in both the poorest school systems to the wealthiest is the key to a long term thriving economy.
While our economy has recovered from the depths of the Great Recession, it has not done so equally and not for all. Americans should all have a place in this economy – and tax breaks or loopholes for the very rich hurt lower and moderate income families. They hurt especially hard in Alabama. It is unconscionable to talk about lowering taxes on the rich while cutting funding for education, nutrition, childcare, housing and infrastructure that are the very things that empower people to meaningfully participate in our economy and our democracy.
When Franklin Roosevelt proposed the New Deal, much of our state was in abject poverty, without even electricity or clean water. Surely, we cannot forget that the prosperity many now know was spurred by the ability of the US Government to promote a better life in our state just a generation or two ago.
Washington can make us cynical about our willingness and ability to help one another succeed – to see our children do better than we did. I believe there is still a place for us to work together to ensure wider economic prosperity.
A Living Wage
So many people in our state work multiple jobs with long hours and still can’t make ends meet. It is past time that our minimum wage should be a living wage. Supporting both the innovation of small business and the ability of all working Alabamians to make a living wage are ideas that flow together – and both will be priorities for me in the US Senate.
In 2017, life-long learning is required for a robust economy and necessary for an educated, engaged citizenry. It starts with a commitment to affordable, quality child care so that more parents can work while knowing their children are safe. Head Start has proven to be one of the most successful, and in many cases critical, programs for long term educational success. We must continue to fund Head Start as well as nutrition programs that make children physically ready to learn. It is so short-sighted to ignore these investments. When Washington is ready to cut the minimal funding it takes to produce public television shows with educational resources like Sesame Street, we have to take a step back and ask, “What are our priorities?”
Strong, quality K-12 public education built America and funding for research through our state universities literally put a man on the moon. Today, we must ensure our local schools get the resources they need to hire and keep great teachers, to invest in technology (like STEM programs) to keep students learning at the cutting edge.
There is no doubt that the quality and funding of education in America (especially in our own state) have been uneven. Rather than abandoning these communities and schools to experiments overseen by political donors, we must commit our nation to providing first class education for children regardless of where they live. I have heard Republicans say that they believe in “equality of opportunity.” It is time to provide the resources to ensure that equality.
College, too, must be within economic reach of all families – without burdening a student with overwhelming debt. I support a program of public service in exchange for reduced college costs and full funding of Pell grants for students and additional research funding in the sciences and arts for the colleges themselves.
Finally, I am committed to using our local schools, community colleges and state universities to develop and deliver ongoing training to continually elevate our workforce and educate our citizens.
The list above is a bold goal of providing substantially greater resources than Washington seems to believe we need or deserve. There is, though, no greater investment we can make in the education – not just of our young people but our entire population. Education is a job creator like no other.
I want to be perfectly clear: I believe in science.
The impact of unchecked fossil fuels on our planet and our health has not been in dispute for decades. Period. Clean air and clean water are not controversial. They are essential to our health, our prosperity, and our quality of life. We should be encouraging investment in renewable energy and conservation as ways to create new jobs and make ourselves energy independent.
Having said that, I fully appreciate and understand the impact that regulations to protect the environment have had on many people. I am a legacy of the coal mining industry. My own grandfather spent his career in the Docena, Alabama coal mines. I have enormous sympathy with the families in our state that have seen their incomes decline or their jobs vanish as coal prices have dropped. Rather than promise that miners can return for generations to dangerous, scarcely regulated jobs – I think America must step-up to secure a safety net of healthcare and job retraining for these families and 21st century education for their children. The possibilities in the minds of these children is the future of our state.
The United States must remain in the Paris Accords
President Trump has moved us ever-further from the international community by withdrawing from the Paris Accords. I know that we can provide economic prosperity to our citizens AND be a beacon of democracy and human rights for the world. Mr. Trump rejected both.
America is great when it understands the responsibilities that come with being the leader of the free world. This seems lost on many in Washington right now as many of the President’s nationalist advisors seem determined to wrap us in our own cocoon.
I will defend women’s access to contraception and a woman’s right to choose and fight any legislation or executive action that would allow insurance companies to discriminate against women. Planned Parenthood provides essential preventative and reproductive health care services like cancer screenings, STD testing and low-cost birth control to millions of American women who have no insurance or otherwise can’t afford these services. I stand with Planned Parenthood.
Today’s champion of equal pay is Lilly Ledbetter and her battle for equality in Gadsden, Alabama. In the Senate, I will work to extend the spirit of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to make if mandatory that two people, doing the same job with the same qualifications are paid equally – regardless of their gender. The shenanigans around the 2016 campaign must be pushed aside and full equality for women made the law and the norm in America.
I support quality, affordable health care for every American. I realize the complexity of the issue and remain open to innovative solutions. But I am concerned that the political climate is hurting more than helping, especially for folks living in Alabama.
Washington is Hurting Americans by Playing Partisan Politics with Our Healthcare
The plan passed by the Republican House is a cheap political trick – playing partisan politics and leaving 23 million more people without real healthcare options. It was “negotiated” behind closed doors among factions in the Republican Party without the benefit of the advice of experts and stakeholders that deliver healthcare services. Now the Republican-controlled Senate is doing the exact same thing. Congress must operate with more openness and transparency
If we really want to make life better for Americans (and Alabamians) let’s talk about what we keep and what we change in the ACA.
Congress must continue to take a critical look at healthcare reform, but anything that gets my support must pass four tests:
I think these principles are critical to the many plans and options that will unfold. The ACA was not intended to be the final word on healthcare – but the improvements should strive toward universal coverage.
We are all shaped by our own experiences – especially when it comes to the complications of healthcare. As I campaign for the Senate today; my priority is still my family.
My parents are now in need of more substantial care than a few years ago. We are navigating the complex world of multiple specialists, lack of capacity, and skyrocketing costs. My folks were modest, hard-working people. Healthcare costs are eating away their modest savings and we are working with both Medicare and Medicaid to see that they get the care they need. I truly understand firsthand the frustrations many have with our system.
I reject the war on Planned Parenthood as another Washington-centered partisan game. I will defend women’s access to contraception and a woman’s right to choose and fight any legislation or executive action that would allow insurance companies to discriminate against women.
We can’t lay this social need at the foot of small businesses. If our workplace remains the primary way we are insured, we must work to ensure that health insurance premiums don’t cripple small businesses or force them to lay off employees. In fact, we must promote policies advance our country’s entrepreneurial biotech sector.
States in Control?
Really? I respect the role of the state in many areas, but our need for health care doesn’t changes from state-to-state. The ability to be healthy should not depend on the state in which you live.
Former Governor Bentley rejected a Medicaid expansion that would have helped both our people and our economy. Why? Because he put partisan politics and his own re-election ahead of the interests of the people of Alabama, Your right to health care should not depend on the state in which you live.