It was great to see so many community leaders come out for Tuesday’s hearing on rural poverty. As I mentioned during the hearing, the Clearfield County area was once a booming industrial area. It has been said that our biggest export is agriculture, but I have a suspicion that it is really our children. They grow up in rural areas like Clearfield and then leave after high school or college.
The poverty rate in our district is 15 percent. That is compared to the statewide poverty level of 12.5 percent. The goal of “Empowering Opportunities: Gateways Out of Poverty” is to identify challenges to families which prevent them from rising out of poverty. Hearings like the one held Tuesday in Clearfield are great ways to hear from people “on the ground” trying to address poverty across our state. Through discussions with the leaders of local charity organizations, church groups and county officials, I believe we can come out with better, more refined solutions to the problems connected to poverty.
Even though Tuesday’s hearing was in Clearfield County, that does not mean that we’re solely looking at rural poverty. We plan to listen to the concerns of people across the state as this initiative continues. Urban poverty continues to be a major concern, along with one area that surprises some people: suburban poverty.
I look forward to hearing from more groups across Pennsylvania on the problems they’re facing and working together toward solutions that can help our state’s residents rise out of poverty.
-Rep. Tommy Sankey (R-Clearfield)