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Sen. Gillibrandís American Opportunity Agenda

Written By: Tanja Rekhi
Sen. Gillibrand

ITHACA (WENY) -- Change is on the Agenda for Senator Kirsten Gillbrand. The Senator unveiled the American Opportunity Agenda, offereing five overdue solutions to help the middle class and women.
     "If you looked at a block with ten houses on it in the 1950's or 60's, on that block, roughly 8 out of 10 families you'd have the dad going to work and the mom staying home. Today, that block looks very different," said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand at Ithaca College Monday afternoon.
     The Senator went on to explain what changes have taken place over the past 50 years.
     "5 out of those 10 homes are dual income families, 3 out of those homes are single mothers, and only in 2 do you have one worker going to work and one caregiver staying home," said Senator Gillibrand.
     Tompkins County Legislator, Jim Dennis was pleased with the Senator's speech, overall. However, he'd like to see more attention paid to educational research
     "I'm old enough to know from the 60's when people were fighting for the ERA which is the equal rights amendment, and in 2014 we're still talking about the same things," said Legislator Dennis.
     Furthermore, the Senator says some things like unequal pay for equal work have gone on for far too long. Pointing out women earn about 77 cents for every dollar a man makes.
     Ithaca COllege Senior, Brie Farringer is looking into graduate schools. She knows what her future could hold and what the trend has been for generations.
     "In the careers I'm looking into, that equal pay would make an enormous difference in what I'm looking to bring home at the end of the day," said Faringer.
     Senator Gillibrand's plan also calls for paid family and medical leave, affordable high quality child care, universal pre-k and a minumum wage hike. Under her plan minimum wage would increase to $10.10 over three years.
     "For millions of American families, it feels no matter what they do, how hard they work, everything is working against them," said Senator Gillibrand. "Contrary to the American value that we reward hard work in this country; the real value of workers wages is actually on the decline."
     The President also spoke of a similar increase in his State of the Union speech last week. But for some, the Senator and President's plan still aren't enough.
     "Here in Tompkins County, we have a $12.62 living wage. A living wage is what we should be offering instead of a minimum wage," said Maura Stephens. "It means what you can live off of reasonably in a community."
     The Senator says her plan would strengthen the middle class and increase economic growth. Meantime, opponents say an increase to minimum wage would also increase the cost of living.