As Russ travels to all 72 counties in Wisconsin, what he’s heard more than anything else is that people, even if they have full-time jobs, are still having trouble paying the bills and having a little time to spend with their family.
Russ believes that if you work hard, it should pay off.
That means we must enact policies that strengthen opportunity for Wisconsin’s middle-class and working families.
Enact Paid Family Leave
First, we must support new parents who are just starting their family — Wisconsin’s moms and dads building their careers and a life with their family; and it also means supporting families whose senior parents may need care themselves.
And it means making sure that parents have quality childcare options as they grow their careers.
Paid leave allows families to plan for their future, and upholds our belief that caring for a newborn child is not just a priority, but something someone who works hard should be able to do, without fear or insecurity.
This is good for the child, this is good for the parents, and it’s good for the employer, who will retain a happy, loyal employee as they build their family.
As the only major industrialized country without paid leave, we must get this done for our economic future.
Raise the Minimum Wage
Many people across Wisconsin are struggling to pay their bills simply because wages are too low.
Our federal minimum wage, $7.25, has not come close to matching inflation. Basics like food and housing have become more expensive, but comparatively, the buying power of the minimum wage has decreased. Just matching inflation since the ‘70s would add more than two dollars to our current federal minimum wage.
Even raising the minimum wage to $12 would mean a raise for nearly 400,000 women in Wisconsin and help to close the gender wage gap.
But a small raise is not enough. Americans who work full time deserve a living wage, so I believe we must look beyond incremental changes and aim to gradually increase the federal minimum wage to $15.
Preserve the Mortgage Interest Deduction
There’s probably no one policy more central to affording a home for your family than the ability to deduct your mortgage interest from your taxes. It was essential to Russ when he purchased his first home, and it remains an essential part of helping fulfill the American dream for Wisconsinites.
In 2012, about 27% of tax filers in Wisconsin claimed the deduction, claiming an average of $6,910 each.
The mortgage interest deduction has become part of the bedrock of Wisconsin’s middle-class, and it absolutely must be protected.