Gillibrand plans to improve state's economy during term
CYRIL JOSH BARKER Amsterdam News Staff | 11/19/2012, 12:41 p.m.
Fresh off the heels from her re-election, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is looking forward to making an even bigger mark in New York state as she begins her six-year term.
In the midst of working on the recovery efforts of Hurricane Sandy, Gillibrand was re-elected last week, taking 72 percent of the vote, which, reportedly, was the highest margin for any statewide candidate in New York. Gillibrand originally took office in 2009 after Hillary Clinton took the position of secretary of state with President Barack Obama's administration.
The junior Democratic senator represents New York alongside Sen. Charles Schumer. In 2009, she was the youngest senator in Congress.
However, fast-forward three years later and Gillibrand says that her focus is getting New Yorkers back to work. In a recent interview with the AmNews, Gillibrand said that while currently she is concentrating on hurricane relief, the economy is also a top priority.
"I'm certainly very grateful to the New York voters for re-electing me," she said. "Once we can get more disaster relief in the state, I will continue to write bills that will create jobs, lower taxes and produce U.S.-based manufacturing. We have a unique history in New York of being able to make things and build things and our future will rely on manufacturing."
As for Obama's re-election, Gillibrand said that his vision aligns with hers and that he will continue fighting for the middle class and working families. Recent buzz in political circles has suggested that she plans to be a vice presidential candidate or even run president in 2016. However, she said, those rumors are false.
"I have no interest or plans to run for anything than the U.S. Senate," she said.
Concerning much-needed help in the state's urban communities, Gillibrand said that she plans to focus on small businesses and minority- and women-owned businesses (MWBEs) as a means for job creation. She also wants to raise the minimum wage.
"MWBEs need access to capital," she said. "It's a crime that the minimum wage is $7.25. Too many of our families are struggling in New York, and it's time to fight back."
The senator said that she will continue to push the Urban Jobs Act, which was introduced in 2011 and would provide a reported $20 million in grants to national nonprofit organizations and an additional $10 million over four years to local community groups. The funds would be used to provide job training for at-risk youth ages 18 to 24.
If passed, the bill would have a positive impact on the high unemployment among young Black and Latino males. The bill especially helps those who have not enrolled in college or those who have been through the criminal justice system.
Said Gillibrand, "This bill is really targeted toward our youth and provides workforce training for an at-risk group. I also want to make sure that our kids are getting the knowledge they need at a younger age, and that means making sure our students are proficient in the areas of math and science."