Economic Opportunity and Shared Prosperity
Too many families do not feel financially secure, despite working hard every day. I am fighting to ensure economic security for all Rhode Islanders and to give our children a world-class public education, including the opportunity to go to college without taking on crushing debt.
Giving Everyone a Fair Deal:
As I meet Rhode Islanders across the state, I hear repeatedly that the rules of our economy are increasingly stacked to benefit the wealthy and well-connected. I have always championed proposals to grow the middle class by increasing wages, providing workplace benefits, and ensuring that middle-class families get a tax break while multi-million-dollar earners pay a fair share.
- Rather than giving tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy, we should focus on strengthening initiatives that help families make ends meet and stimulate our economy. I am proud to cosponsor the American Family Act and the Working Families Tax Relief Act. These important bills would expand the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit to put more money in workers’ pockets and to help families pay their bills.
- No one should have to worry about taking time off for a health crisis or to care for a loved one. Rhode Island is one of the eight states with paid family leave, and I support federal legislation to strengthen and expand this protection. I cosponsored the FAMILY Act, which would allow workers nationwide up to 12 weeks of paid leave to recuperate from illness or care for family members.
- Families ought to be able to easily file their taxes directly with the IRS for free. That’s why I cosponsored the Tax Filing Simplification Act to lower costs and cut red tape for taxpayers.
- It’s past time to help address the nearly $1 trillion Americans hold in credit card debt. My Empowering States’ Rights to Protect Consumers Act would protect Americans from runaway interest rates for credit cards and other consumer loans.
Moving the Economy Forward:
We need to modernize Rhode Island’s economy, attract new jobs, and help small businesses grow. We also need to protect Narragansett Bay, which is an integral part of our economy.
- Rhode Island has a history of manufacturing excellence dating back to the start of the Industrial Revolution. However, transferring specialized skills from one generation of workers to the next is a challenge for local manufacturers. I sponsored The Retain Innovation and Manufacturing Excellence Act to help businesses keep retiring workers long enough to train new employees.
- Small businesses are the strength of Rhode Island’s economy. I was a lead sponsor of the Small Business Reorganization Act, which was signed into law in August 2019. The bill streamlined the bankruptcy process for small businesses to help them reorganize and get back on solid footing.
- I supported the Agriculture Improvement Act. This law includes a key provision to support the aquaculture industry’s growth. To help Rhode Island shellfish farmers continue to produce some of the best oysters in the country, it gives this sustainable industry the certainty it needs to keep growing and creating jobs.
Building Infrastructure for the Future:
It’s past time to make much-needed investments in rebuilding our infrastructure to make our public works safer and more durable, and to better respond to challenges like sea level rise and extreme weather. I’m working to create well-paying design and construction jobs and modernize our infrastructure efficiently and sustainably.
- A strong economy needs quality roads and bridges and a reliable transit system. As a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, I helped author legislation that boosted highway and transit funding for Rhode Island, bringing our state over $1.3 billion in federal funds over five years.
- I added provisions in the America’s Water Infrastructure Act to direct the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to clear debris from our rivers, ensure coastal communities are prepared for future storms, and promote innovation. These provisions will help bolster Rhode Island’s infrastructure to better withstand climate change.
- My bipartisan IMAGINE ACT would promote the development and use of innovative materials and techniques to build more resilient and cost-effective bridge and water infrastructure.
Strengthening Social Security and Protecting Seniors:
Rhode Islanders who work hard ought to be able to look forward to a comfortable and rewarding retirement. I will do everything in my power to ensure that Social Security remains the bedrock of American retirement security for generations to come. We also need to do more to help workers save, so they have enough money to truly enjoy their golden years.
- As a founding member of the Expand Social Security Caucus and a member of the Senate Finance Committee, I have been a leader in protecting the benefits our seniors rely on.
- To help with the rising costs and expenses that seniors in Rhode Island face, I have introduced the Guaranteed 3 Percent COLA for Seniors Act to ensure that seniors relying on Social Security benefits receive at least a 3% cost-of-living adjustment each year.
- Only half of American workers are able to save for retirement through work-based accounts. That means half of Americans are missing out on an important way to grow their nest egg. My Automatic IRA Act would allow tens of millions of workers to begin saving in payroll-funded accounts.
Getting a Quality Education:
We need to strengthen our nation's public schools and ensure that all children have access to a first-rate education. In addition, we need to make college more affordable and to help students, parents, and graduates overcome crushing student loan debt.
- I have long fought to strengthen Pell Grants, which were created by Rhode Island’s legendary Senator Claiborne Pell. Pell Grants provide millions of American students with the financial aid they need to enroll in college and complete their education. It is crucial to uphold Senator Pell’s noble vision by making sure the Pell Grant has enough purchasing power to give the children of hardworking families a fair shot at a college education.
- We also need to help the borrowers struggling to pay back their student loan debt. I am a cosponsor of Senator Warren’s Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act, which would allow individuals with student loan debt to refinance at lower interest rates.
- Middle school represents some of the most formative years of a child’s education. We must do more to give middle schools resources to identify and support at-risk students. My Success in the Middle Act would establish a grant program to help middle schools boost achievement, identify kids at-risk of dropping out, and prepare students to transition to high school.