By Frank Dermody
Many Americans have become discouraged with today’s politics of personal destruction and the influence of big money in campaigns. They are looking for something different. People want to vote for candidates up and down the ballot who will stand up for their ideals and fight for their interests.
In 2018, more than 120 candidates for the General Assembly embraced the We The People – Pennsylvania policy agenda. Inspired by public meetings with everyday Pennsylvanians from across the state and drawing on the best policy research, We The People – PA created a policy agenda that should serve as a roadmap for legislators like my colleagues and me.
Pennsylvania House Democrats are proud to support the We The People campaign – and in doing so we join a national effort this week led by the State Innovation Exchange to fight for working families across the country.
By talking with voters, the We The People – PA campaign learned that, regardless of where we come from, what we look like, how we call our family or how we work to make ends meet, we have a common vision of what a state government that works for us would look like.
We deserve a government that offers a path to prosperity that will work for all of us, not just the wealthiest 1 percent. Prosperity for all comes from raising wages and benefits so that working people and the middle class can afford to buy more from our businesses. It comes from making sure families can secure the basic necessities of life: food, housing, and health care, among other things. And it comes from to investing in education at all levels in order to create a stronger workforce.
In short, we need a state government that invests in Pennsylvania’s communities and people. State legislators need to present a positive, proactive vision for how we can do this.
That’s why House Democrats are responding to the grassroots energy of We The People – PA with The Plan for Pennsylvania, a reflection of our core values.
On education, we want to improve the public-school classrooms that serve more than 90 percent of Pennsylvania students. Our state thrives when it invests in classrooms and teachers. Good public schools make stronger communities and create opportunities for everyone to have access to good jobs.
- READ MORE: Five takeaways from Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2019-2020 budget proposal
On wages, Democrats know hard-working Pennsylvanians deserve a raise. The state’s minimum wage has not changed in a decade. No one who works hard and plays by the rules should live in poverty. A higher minimum will send positive ripples throughout Pennsylvania’s economy, raising wages and increasing people’s buying power. It’s time for the middle class and small business to get a raise.
On infrastructure, House Democrats want to put more Pennsylvanians to work fixing the things that matter in our daily lives. These investments will mean you can drink clean water, travel on sturdy roads and bridges, and have truly affordable and accessible mass transit. And for everyone in Pennsylvania to have a fighting chance in today’s world, broadband internet access must reach the entire state. Let’s help small businesses grow and let’s end the sweetheart subsidies and huge tax breaks that give the biggest corporations an unfair advantage in our state.
On health care, nobody knows when a personal health crisis may occur. Democrats are committed to protecting access to good, affordable health care for all, including those with pre-existing conditions. For too long, Republican leaders have let big health insurance companies get in the way of the health care we all need and seeing the doctor of our choice.
- READ MORE: Gov. Tom Wolf wants a higher minimum wage and more money for teachers – and no tax increases
After hearing the voters speak, House Democrats are more determined than ever to respond to them by putting people first in Harrisburg. We have a “Plan for Pennsylvania” and we are working to restore faith in a state government that fights for families by creating a more prosperous, fairer, safer, healthier Pennsylvania.
State Rep. Frank Dermody is the Democratic floor leader in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. His 33rd House District seat includes parts of Allegheny and Westmoreland counties. He writes from Harrisburg.