BY CHIEF VAL DEMINGS
ORLANDO - When I was growing up I watched my father, James Leroy Butler, work full-time as a janitor. But, that job was never enough to support our family. He had to pick up several odd jobs, working seven days a week to make ends meet for our family.
There were days we would come home and the electricity had been turned off. I remember some rainy days when we had to get the buckets out to catch the rain coming through our leaky roof, and it wasn't uncommon for us to eat a pot of something one night, and a pot of the same thing several more nights that week. I now know my mother, Elouise Laura Butler, was a miracle worker by making a lot out of very little.
Sadly, not a lot has changed for many families in Florida. The wage gap in America is the widest its ever been, and continues to grow, with the profits being made at the very top not being passed on to the workers. Working families continue to work harder and harder, only to get further behind.
One of the reasons I was first persuaded to run for Congress back in 2012 was because a top Congressional leader reminded me that 1 in 4 children go to bed hungry. I've seen firsthand throughout my career the devastating effects childhood poverty has, first as a social worker and later as a law enforcement officer. It's a reality that should keep you up at night, and one of the things that drives me to fight for the working class.
According to a recent study from the Economic Policy Institute, Florida has the fifth highest income inequality in the nation. The study found that the top one percent makes nearly 35 times more than the bottom 99%. The average income for the top 1% is $1.27 million, while the average income for the bottom 99% is $36,530.
These numbers are unacceptable. In Congress, I will fight to protect the most vulnerable people, and work to pass legislation that will increase the federal minimum wage and ensure that small businesses are able to grow and prosper.
We know that education is the key to success and I will work hard to make sure everyone, regardless of the color of their skin, size of their bank account or zip code they live in, has the same access to quality education.
We know that every student will not go to college, and we need to make sure that those students who don't go to college can gain vocational job skills training through apprenticeships that prepare them to make a decent wage. I will also ensure that our seniors who want to retire, can do so with the respect and dignity they deserve.
We can no longer afford to sit back and watch as the disparity grows, here in Central Florida and across the nation. These are real issues facing the people of Central Florida, and it's going to take a different type of leader to get the job done. I want to be that leader for you, that holds America to its' promise. It matters to me.
BY CHIEF VAL DEMINGS