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Walorski Opening Statement at a Hearing on Leveling the Playing Field for Working Families: Challenges and Opportunities

March 07, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  The top Republican on the House Ways and Means Worker and Family Support Subcommittee Jackie Walorski (R-IN) delivered the following opening statement at a Subcommittee Hearing on Leveling the Playing Field for Working Families: Challenges and Opportunities.

CLICK HERE to watch the hearing.

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

“Thank you, Chairman Davis.

“Before I proceed to my opening statement, I want to again share how excited I am to be part of the Worker and Family Support Subcommittee and to work with you on ways to help families experience the American Dream.  Our districts are only 90 miles apart and share more than just weather.  I hope that you’ll take me up on my offer for you to come visit some proud Hoosiers, and for me to visit Chicago so the exchange of ideas will continue well beyond the physical walls here in Washington, DC.

“I agree that at a time when we have 7.3 million job openings and demand for workers that is producing upward pressure on wages, we do need to know what is holding back individuals who are still not back in the workforce.

“Just last week, when governors from across the country were in DC, they raised concerns about the need for workers and highlighted workforce development challenges.  And just this week I met with the head of Governor Holcomb’s workforce cabinet for an update on their work to realign and better coordinate the efforts of the multiple state agencies that play a role in developing Indiana’s workforce.

“Last year, before this Subcommittee, we heard from Peter Barrett of Smoker Craft, a boat manufacturer in my district, who told us that with an aging workforce, and the small pool of qualified workers for area businesses to recruit from, he was concerned about the future prospect of finding skilled workers – a critical component for the growth of his business.

“Since his testimony, the situation has only worsened for employers like Smoker Craft, but that means it has improved even further for workers. In my district alone, I know we need 10,000 new hires right now to meet the demand of incoming orders to help continue our record economic growth.  Competition for workers means increasing salaries, bonuses, and other benefits, such as paid leave.

“These are the challenges, and in each of those are also great opportunities.  We have the opportunity to make economic and social gains in ways not seen in decades so families are better off financially, helping to improve their overall well-being in the near and long-term.  Better wages and stable work bring along a host of benefits, the greatest being the positive impact on children who are spared the trauma that comes from unrest in the home.

“At the root of addressing these challenges needs to be a focus on human interaction, engagement, support, encouragement, and belief in the possible, not just assumptions about the probable.

“I’m talking about jobs and opportunities, with benefits and services, for success, also known as the JOBS for Success Act.  For too long states have taken federal tax dollars, but have not done enough to help families.  By focusing at the federal level on outcomes, we can empower caseworkers on the ground to focus on the needs of the families sitting across the table, which increasingly means recognizing mental health or substance use issues, to help them achieve their own version of success.

“It is time to focus on solving the root causes, rather than pushing complex government ideas that will only address symptoms.

“Thank you to our panel of witnesses for being here today and for sharing their perspectives.

“Again, I am proud to be part of this Subcommittee and look forward to the ways we can work together to help more Americans enter and remain in the workforce, climb the economic ladder, and realize their full potential.

“With that, I yield back.”