Providence Journal: R.I. progressive Democrats reissue ‘fair shot agenda’
By Katerine Gregg
Legislation would “address the growing gap between the wealthy and the middle class.”
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - For the second year in a row, the progressive bloc in the Rhode Island House of Representatives is calling for action on what it calls a “fair shot agenda to address the growing gap between the wealthy and the middle class.”
The action list includes: “Passing a budget that protects our neighbors... Investing in school facilities to ensure safe and appropriate schools for our young people... Creating pay equity and raising the minimum wage to $15 for all workers [by 2023]... Ensuring affordable long-term care and prescription drugs for seniors.”
At their press conference, they pointed to specific bills that, they believe, will get them half-way there. One would essentially ban employers from asking job applicants for their salary history, a longstanding practice blamed by some for persistent inequities in the pay earned by women and minorities. Another has to do with the pricing of prescription drugs.
“Everyone deserves a fair shot at a better future. But for too many Rhode Islanders, working hard and playing by the rules no longer guarantees security,” said Rep. Aaron Regunberg, a Providence Democrat running for lieutenant governor, in an advance copy of his remarks. “We need bold state action to change that. It starts with a budget that protects our neighbors.
“We are here to announce that, together, we will stand up against attempts to cut critical programs that our neighbors rely on, and fight for investments in healthcare, housing, and education,” Regunberg said. “Just this year, big corporations and the wealthiest 1 percent used their influence to get an enormous tax handout from Republicans in Congress. In Rhode Island, we can use our power to tilt the scales back towards people who are dealing with real problems.”
Also weighing in: Rep. Gregg Amore, an East Providence school teacher. “Too many of our schools are leaky, moldy, and not appropriately weatherized,” Amore said. “It’s critical that we pass [a] school facilities bond proposal this year so that we can ensure that every child can learn and grow in an appropriate environment.”
“For Rhode Island to move forward, we must increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour and ensure that everyone is paid fairly for their hard work,” added Rep. Susan Donovan, D-Bristol. “Rhode Island women working full time still make only 87 cents to the dollar that their male counterparts make and it’s worse for women of color. Raising wages and standards for workers is key to ensuring everyone has a fair shot, because we all do better when we do better.”