Law and Politics

Pennsylvania’s Successful Policies to Rebuild the Middle Class in Report

March 28, 2013
Neal Tepel – LaborPress USA

Washington, DC – A new report released by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, outlines state policies necessary to help state elected officials bypass federal gridlock and strengthen the middle class. The recommendations outlined in the report would create a significant number of jobs, boost incomes for a large percentage of the population, meaningfully cut costs for middle-class necessities, considerably lower the risks of falling behind, and boost opportunity and fair treatment for all.

“The American dream is based on the idea that working families deserve security, safety and opportunity for their children,” said Héctor J. Figueroa, President of 32BJ Service Employees International Union, the largest property services union in the country. “We have a responsibility as a society to keep the pathway to the middle class clear of unfair obstacles so that working people have access to good jobs with benefits, quality healthcare, affordable housing, and a decent education. This report shows that states’ efforts to protect working families have a powerful and positive impact, and should be expanded and encouraged.”

The report, “States at Work: Progressive State Policies to Rebuild the Middle Class,” offers more than 100 recommendations to create a significant number of jobs, boost incomes for a large percentage of the population and meaningfully cut costs for middle-class necessities among others.

Among Pennsylvania’s numerous successful policies: Pennsylvania uses an alternative approach to procurement—often called best-value contracting—which evaluates contractors based on a range of performance factors rather than just price. Pennsylvania started Smart Rehab, a program which has combined federal weatherization program funds with other grant and loan sources to retrofit multifamily housing developments that house lower-income individuals and families. Current esti­mates suggest that the program will achieve an average reduction in energy costs of 25 percent to 30 percent. Pennsylvania has taken a step in the right direction by establishing the Pennsylvania Prior Learning Assessment Consortium to facilitate greater use of prior learning assessments credit in education. The Pennsylvania Department of Education provides additional funding for certified green school construction projects. Pennsylvania’s Innovation Works pro­gram provides a combination of counseling, networking, office space, and small pools of grant funding to bridge the gap between research and market, helping young technology companies get off the ground.

“Leaders in government have an important responsibility to use their power to help rebuild our middle class and create an economy that works for everyone,” said Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery County). “This report provides a valuable blueprint to help state officials achieve a more equitable and prosperous future.”

 

March 28, 2013

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