Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for Governor, said today that those concerned about improving the lives of women in New York State should vote for the Green Party in November.
"I am sure that Cuomo's team did a good job today pointing out the anti-women agenda of his republican opponent. But Cuomo has failed to deliver on many key issues of concern to women, especially the poor and women of color," said Hawkins. Cuomo's Women's Equality Party held a news conference outside of Astorino's headquarters today.
Hawkins accused Cuomo and the Democrats of repeatedly cynically exploiting women to increase their vote totals against the Republicans. Two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women. The Democrats delayed raising the minimum wage in 2012 so they can use it as a campaign theme in the election. When they finally did pass it, they kept it as a subpoverty wage and spread the meager increase over three years and failed to include food tip workers. The last two years they similarly have refused to strike a deal to pass the Women's Equality Agenda.
"Cuomo could have won 9 of the 10 measures in the Women's Equality Act last year and this year. Instead, he insisted on all 10 knowing he could use them as campaign fodder. He should have got the nine adopted to help women now and then campaigned against the Senate Republicans who held up the tenth measure to codify the provisions of Roe v. Wade in state law," Hawkins added.
"Cuomo's trickle-down economic policies don't trickle down to working-class women, who need living wage jobs, a closing of the male-female pay gap, affordable child care, paid family leave, and increased cash assistance and job and educational opportunities for single mothers in poverty," added Hawkins.
Women would particularly benefit from Hawkins' push for a $15 an hour minimum wage, and a elimination of the subminimum wage (tip deduction) for food tip workers. Poverty rates for women, especially of color, are much higher than for men. Nearly six in ten poor adults are women, and more than half of all poor children live in families headed by women. Poverty rates are especially high for single mothers, women of color, and elderly women living alone.
The vast majority of welfare participants are single mothers and their children. Welfare benefits in New York are so low that they come to only half of the federal poverty level. Cuomo not only has failed to propose any increase in welfare benefits, one of his first acts as Governor was to delay the meager three-year increase in the welfare basic grant approved during Governor Paterson's tenure - amounting to an extra dollar a day for a family of three. The welfare shelter allowance falls far below the level needed to obtain adequate housing.
The federal government has repeatedly ranked the state's welfare-to-work programs as among the worst in the U.S. in helping to move poor people into jobs. A major reason for the state's poor performance is that NY relies on workfare /WEP far more than other states.
Cuomo has opposed the proposal (A7119 - Wright / S5120 - Savino) by welfare advocates such as Community Voices Heard to eliminate WEP, replacing it with a transitional jobs program to provide a paying job with training and education. Cuomo has also opposed most reforms promoted by anti-poverty advocates to improve New York's welfare system and failed to appoint a state welfare (OTDA) Commissioner during the first several years of his administration.
Cuomo has slashed funding for transitional jobs programs to nearly zero, despite receiving an annual billion-dollar surplus as part of the fixed federal welfare (TANF) block grant.
The Green Party supports free universal child care as is standard in virtually every other industrial democracy.
Hawkins said that, when elected Governor, he would work with women advocacy organizations to pass an even stronger Women's Equality agenda that deals with women's health and reproductive rights, ensures pay equity and paid maternity leaves, curbs wage theft, combats sexual harassment, and includes stronger penalties for human trafficking.
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