Yesterday, Senator Murray hosted a roundtable discussion in Everett with local advocates on women’s economic empowerment. Sen. Murray is currently leading a Congressional push to strengthen economic security and expand opportunity for women and their families, and believes that our country’s economic success, and that of middle class families, goes hand in hand with women’s economic success. The roundtable discussion highlighted a range of issues and policies to help women and their families succeed, including closing the pay gap, raising the minimum wage, making child care more affordable, and getting tuition costs down.
Sen. Murray heard from Rita in Everett, who is raising her young granddaughter and relying on income from a minimum wage job. Raising the minimum wage would help families like Rita’s-- who work full time and yet still struggle to make ends meet—become more financially secure.
Sen. Murray also heard from a local mother of 3 named Stacy, who lives in Everett and travels to Seattle each day for work. Her youngest is in child care full time, and her school-aged children go to care before and after school, as well as the summers. Stacy stressed the need for access to affordable child care, to help working parents. That’s why Sen. Murray has introduced the Helping Working Families Afford Child Care Act, which would help working moms and dads by expanding the Child Care Tax Credit to better reflect the high costs of care families face today.
Adriana, married mother of three, is a self-employed massage therapist residing in Olympia, and a graduate of Western Washington University. While attending WWU, Adriana was working as a waitress and learned that a male waiter who had less experience was making more money than her. Women like Adriana shouldn’t have to wonder if their male counterparts are getting paid more for doing the same job. The Equal Pay Act, which Sen. Murray is co-sponsoring, would put a stop this unfair and all-too-common occurrence.
Carly, a senior at WWU, talked about the impact of skyrocketing costs of a college degree. She wonders how she will pay off the $25 K in student loan debt she will be faced with upon graduating next year. And, thanks to the gender wage gap, women have an added burden when it comes to paying off their student loans. Sen. Murray has heard time and again from so many borrowers in Washington state and across the country who are struggling under the weight of student loan debt. These are people who chose to further their education and build their skills, which will help strengthen our economy and the middle class, and Congress should be doing all it can to help ease that burden of student loan debt. That is why Sen. Murray co-sponsored the Bank on Students Emergency Act, which would allow people to refinance their student loans at today’s lower rates—just like you can refinance your mortgage or your business loans.
Sen. Murray will bring all of the stories she heard in Everett back to Washington, D.C., as she continues fighting for the economic well-being of all women.