Weekly Radio Address: Gerzofsky says, “Economy is improving but Mainers still feel insecure. Lawmakers need to challenge the status quo.”
Good morning. This is state Senator Stan Gerzofsky from Brunswick.
Earlier this week, Americans got some good news: under President Obama’s watch, more jobs have been created in the past year than since 1999—15 years ago. After a hard fought battle during the recession, a lagging recovery, and, escalating cost of living, it seems Americans can finally take a sigh of relief.
On Saturdays, I set up shop at local public markets and restaurants, and invite people from my district, to come and talk about what’s going on with them: How they are feeling. What’s working—and what’s not.
But it seems that there’s a disconnect. Folks know that the economy is improving. In fact, here in Maine, 94% of us have a job. But there’s still a feeling of insecurity. Economic insecurity—like we are waiting for the proverbial “other shoe to drop.” And of course, that makes sense, because:
- It’s still hard to put away extra money into our savings account.
- Paying the bills is a juggling act.
- When the car’s “check engine” light comes on, the heart sinks with dread—anticipating the mechanic’s bill that will follow.
- And what about the things we need to pay for? The mortgage (or rent), groceries, the heating bill, and day care. It’s just not getting any cheaper.
We’re not just imagining that things are getting more expensive. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there’s been a 67 percent increase in the cost of living since 1990.
And so, costs keep going up and up but wages are not.
After years of double-digit unemployment, no one is complaining about having a job. Now that we’ve turned the corner on this recession, lawmakers can’t give up. We have to look ahead to making sure that we’re giving folks an opportunity for better paying jobs. For example, if the median household income kept pace with the economy since 1970, it would be $92,000 not $50,000.
It seems the American Dream is getting farther and farther away from what it was for our parents’ generation—or even mine.
We all agree that people shouldn’t have to work two and three jobs just to try and make ends meet. Lawmakers have to continue putting policies in place that help wages grow.
Democrats have long been committed to policies that do this—whether it’s the minimum wage and our efforts to make it a living wage, or last sessions efforts with the special Workforce Committee and their work on workforce development; this session will be no different.
We will continue to make sure that workers get the training they need to compete in a new economy—and that businesses get the skilled workers they demand.
We will continue to fight for policies that ensure the next generation can get a better shot at the American Dream by going on to college or a training school.
We will look at common-sense solutions to make sure that there are both short-term and long-term solutions.
I am hopeful that as we start this new legislative session, there will be more than just Democrats challenging the status quo that has led to the declining middle-class.
Because for it to work, we need to work together. It’s really about all of us working together.
Thank you for listening. This is state Senator Stan Gerzofsky of Brunswick. Have a safe and warm weekend.