A couple weeks ago U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett (Texas – 35th District) invited me to testify before the Committee on Ways and Means’ Subcommittee on Human Resources in the U.S. House of Representatives on challenges facing low-income people in Texas.
When we talk about what’s needed to move America forward we have to focus on what’s best for kids, and that means focusing on what’s best for families. We know the following is true:
- To significantly reduce poverty we must have strong job creation and a well-functioning safety net; and
- We must look locally for innovative new strategies and then invest to take them to scale.
Testimony begins at 01:00:00
Move the Needle in Texas, Move it for the U.S.
Today one of every 11 U.S. kids lives in Texas. In other words, if we move the needle on poverty for Texas kids, that will move the needle on poverty for the whole country. The best way to end child poverty is to ensure parents have a good job. And while Texas has been a leader in job creation and has one of the lowest employment rates in the country, child poverty is higher today than before the recession. Why is that?
It’s a myth that Texas weathered the Great Recession easily. As a result of the economic slowdown, many middle wage jobs were replaced by low-wage jobs following the recession. Thus many families who are working in Texas still struggle to get by.
So how do we get low-income workers into good jobs? Ironically, it’s not just about creating more good jobs. To get out of poverty, people need the stability that’s provided by what we call the “safety net” to be able to train for and get those better jobs. Struggling to feed your family or find child care can become insurmountable barriers to improving your financial situation. Programs, like unemployment insurance and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), help working Texans find stability so that they can create a strong foundation for moving ahead.
In addition, local Texas programs have developed innovative ways to connect underemployed adults to higher skilled, and higher paying, jobs. These programs could be scaled up to tackle poverty at the state level along with investments from the state and federal government.
To read my full testimony, click here.