I applaud Chairman Dave Reed and the members of the Policy Committee for taking the initiative to look further into poverty in our state and specifically in Monroe County, a portion of my district. It is a tremendous effort that this committee has taken on to look deeper into the poverty issue, which is often a very emotional and difficult issue to address. Poverty is judged and it’s causes, circumstances and solutions are often assumed. The Empowering Opportunities Initiative is needed so we have the most updated, realistic, and accurate information on the issue. The legislative body must always research and understand what is happening at the grass roots level, to effectively understand any situation or issue and how to best improve it.
This initiative approached the many organizations and associations that work daily to help people in poverty , allowing them to communicate the obstacles they encounter . The information we received was tremendous and honest. It was evident that in Monroe county some of the largest struggles are affordable housing and quality, affordable child care . These two issues were common ground across the state in the fight against increased poverty. Another strong point uncovered was the need for transitional benefits to ensure that opportunities to progress out of the poverty cycle were not missed due to a financial hole that could not be avoided if benefits were immediately lost. The discussion of long term solutions to improve quality of life and financial stability were strong and evident.
I thank all of the committee members for their efforts and hard work on the poverty issue.
I look forward to continuing to work with fellow legislators as we look further into our current state systems that support individuals in poverty and utilizing the information we gathered to make them work more effectively. The goal is to help move individuals out of poverty into long- term, independent, financially stabile environments enhancing their quality of life.
-Rep. Rosemary Brown