By Alex Lloyd Gross
Art Haywood ( PA) is a state senator who has been fighting for his constituents for quite a while., He was just appointed the Democratic Chair of the Health And Human Services Committee. This means that committee is responsible for finding the best resources to spend state money on it’s citizens. Unfortunately, many of the people who call Pennsylvania their home are in poverty. They are underemployed and on state benefits such as SNAP and medicare..
He is going to start a four city listening tour which will have locations across the state. He wants to hear from people who are underemployed and or unemployed and living in poverty. “I am not sure what I’ll hear, that’s why I am going out there, to gather information for my report,” Senator Haywood said. The likely topics are the State Minimum Wage, which desperately needs to be raised. The opposition is the republicans who seem to think that the idea of paying someone $15.00 to flip hamburgers or take tickets at a show is atrocious.
Recently, two Republican Senators, Dan Laughlin (R- Erie) and Michele Brooks were filmed talking before a manufacture and business association meeting. They said this is the year the wage will increase. They are floating a number of $8.50 per hour, which is nothing to raise people out of poverty. In fact, Haywood said during a rally that that number is a “disgrace and it helps legislate people into poverty”. Most people are already making $8,50 to $9.50 and this action will do nothing for them. This legislation will keep people where they are. “This is all about negotiation and that is what we are about. I am at $15.00 per hour by 2025. The numbers these people are starting off at are $8.50 . We can get a meeting of the minds to find a number that is suitable. I can tell you $8.50 per hour is not suitable.” Haywood said.
The excuse that this will cost teenagers their jobs is bunk, according to Haywood ” The Economic Policy Instituter released their facts that show the median age for people making minimum wage is 35 years old. Those teenagers who do work, a lot of them contribute to family and when we raised the wage before, there was no loss of jobs for teenagers”. Haywood said.
Job training programs are another thing that do not work for everyone. Some are more skilled at something others are not. The listening tour will give the senator information to help those get out of poverty by listening to real life experiences. Some people can only do unskilled labor but have a family. There will always be a market for the person that mans the concession stand at the movies. Imagine the inconvenience without service workers, who are responsible for their employers turning record profits. “Trickle down” does not work it is a mechanism used to keep people from being paid what they should be paid, claim workers that attended a recent rally.
The other things Haywood will talk about is the food pantries that give food to people who needed it. From a local senior center that gets a few loafs of bread for distribution to Philabundance, that largest food distribution network in the state. During Haywood’s listening tours, he will have about 90 reserved for people already scheduled to speak . There will be ample time for people across the state to speak with him, even if he is not the senator in their district. He said he will stick around afterward to talk with them.
The information he gleans from his tour will be filed into a report, and shared with his fellow legislators and find out how they can best spend the $13 billion they are allotted. Sen Hatwood’s district includes portions of Montgomery County and Philadelphia.