Economic Opportunity and Shared Prosperity
Creating good jobs and helping Rhode Islanders build toward a secure retirement will always be my top priority. When our economy tanked after the 2008 financial crisis, I worked tirelessly to bring federal resources to our state, including $2.5 billion in Recovery Act funds. Both employment and the housing markets have rebounded in Rhode Island, but too many families still are working hard just to make ends, and don't feel confident in their and their children's futures. That's why I'm fighting to ensure economic security for Rhode Islanders and to give our children a world-class public education, including the opportunity to go to college without taking on crushing debt.
As I've met with Rhode Islanders across the state, I've heard time after time that the rules of our economy are increasingly stacked to benefit the wealthy and well connected. I've worked hard to reverse that trend by championing proposals to increase wages, provide workplace benefits, and ensure that working families get a tax break, while multi-million-dollar earners pay a fair share.
- In 2007 - my first year in office - I voted to increase the federal minimum wage to $7.25 per hour. While families' costs of living have gone up considerably, Congress has not raised the minimum wage. Since then, I've cosponsored the Raise the Wage Act to lift it to $12 per hour and to adjust this level automatically as costs rise in the future.
- Parents should not have to worry about taking time off to care for a sick child or deal with a family emergency. Rhode Island is one of the few states with paid family leave, and I support federal legislation to strengthen and expand this protection. I've cosponsored the FAMILY Act, which would allow workers nationwide up to 12 weeks of paid leave to recuperate from illness or care for loved ones.
- There's no excuse for women to make less than men for the same work, yet on average women earn only 79 cents on the dollar compared to men. The wage gap costs Rhode Islanders as much as one billion dollars every year. I support the Paycheck Fairness Act to ensure fair pay for all Americans.
- The Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit deliver tax refunds to tens of thousands of Rhode Island families I supported expansions of these programs that benefit an estimated 31,000 families in Rhode Island, including 56,000 children.
- I've also worked to close the tax loopholes designed to benefit the wealthy and well-connected. My Paying a Fair Share Act would ensure that multi-million-dollar earners pay at least a 30 percent tax rate. This bill would make the tax code fairer, while generating billions of dollars in revenue to reduce the budget deficit.
The last recession hit Rhode Island earlier and harder than many other places I supported the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which brought $2.5 billion to our state, helping our economy rebound While our employment numbers have climbed since then, we still need to do much more to modernize the Ocean State's economy and to attract new jobs and industries to our state
- 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.
- I've also joined the other Rhode Island delegation members in supporting major grants that helped fund the replacement of the Viaduct Bridge in Providence and infrastructure upgrades at the Ports of Quonset and Providence that have supported jobs and helped attract new industries and businesses to our state.
- Rhode Island has a rich manufacturing history, dating back to Pawtucket's Slater Mill. To help revitalize this industry, I've brought together business owners and government officials to develop strategies to make our state more competitive. To support the growth of advanced manufacturing, I worked with the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association and local composites companies to establish the Composites Alliance of Rhode Island.
- It's wrong that the federal tax code rewards companies for moving jobs overseas My Offshoring Prevention Act would close this loophole. I've also cosponsored the Bring Jobs Home Act, which would offer generous tax credits to companies that bring foreign jobs back to the United States.
Rhode Islanders who work hard and play by the rules should be able to look forward to a comfortable and rewarding retirement I want Social Security to remain the bedrock of American retirement security for generations to come I also believe we need to do more to help workers save so that they have additional resources to enjoy their golden years
- As a founding member of the Senate Defend Social Security Caucus, I've been a leader in protecting the benefits our seniors rely on. Social Security already can fully pay benefits for years to come, and by more fairly applying the payroll taxes that fund the program, we can shore it up for generations.
- The formula Social Security uses to determine annual cost-of-living increases has not kept pace with the real costs seniors face. I support improving the formula to ensure benefit checks reflect the rising costs of housing, fuel, and other expenses.
- For many seniors, Social Security pays for the essentials, but may not provide enough to fully enjoy retirement. As costs rise, it's more important than ever that workers build nest eggs to provide additional income when they retire. While many employers offer 401(k) plans, about one half of the workforce lacks access to a workplace-based savings account. That's why I introduced the Automatic IRA Act, which would give workers access to automatic payroll-deducted retirement savings
- For more on my work to protect Medicare and to build health security for seniors, click here.
As a member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, one of my top priorities has been to strengthen our nation's public schools to ensure that all children have access to a first-rate education I've also worked to make college more affordable and to help students, parents, and graduates overcome the burden of crushing student loan debt.
- I helped rewrite the law that governs elementary, middle school, and high school education. After working with Rhode Island students, parents, teachers, administrators, and reformers, I authored provisions on middle schools, school innovation, and juvenile justice programs, among others. President Obama signed this landmark education bill into law in 2015.
- Students should not have to take on crushing debt in order to attend college. That's why I've cosponsored the Reducing Education Debt Act, which would make college more affordable and ease the burden of existing student loan debt.
- We must protect and strengthen Pell Grants, the college aid program named after Rhode Island's legendary Senator Claiborne Pell This financial aid is a pillar of access and affordability, helping millions of students enroll in college and complete their education each year I've worked to increase the maximum grant by $1,500 since 2007, and will continue to work to expand this successful program.