February 20, 2015

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Democratic Governors Governing, Republican Governors Playing 2016 Politics

This weekend, Governors—both Democratic and Republican—will converge on Washington for the biannual National Governors Association meeting.

Democratic Governors are squarely focused on the right priorities: being fiscally responsible, improving educational opportunities, creating good-paying jobs, and strengthening the middle class. And they are leading with fresh ideas for college affordability, increasing the minimum wage, and paid sick leave.

It’s a very different story for the Republican governors, however.

With at least a half dozen Republican governors running for President, they are in a race to the bottom to appeal to the most extreme elements of the Republican Party. While their pandering policies might please the very far-right, they have dire consequences for the people who sent them to office.

This weekend’s NGA will highlight a clear contrast: While Republican Governors pander to Iowa Tea Party activists, Democratic Governors are focused on delivering results for the citizens of the states they actually govern.

Democratic vs. Republican Governors

As Washington debates policies to strengthen America’s middle class, Democratic governors are already making critical strides in the states. In contrast, Republican governors are actively undermining the economic security of their citizens by opposing commonsense measures that are supported by broad majorities of the American public.  Just look at the facts:

Democratic Governors Have Raised the Minimum Wage….

  • Mark Dayton signed minimum wage law increasing the guaranteed wage from $6.15 per hour to $9.50 by 2016 and tying it to inflation. [Huffington Post, 04/14/14]

While Republican Governors Have Vetoed It or Dismissed Need for Minimum Wage Increases.

  • Christie vetoed raising the minimum wage to $8.50. “Gov. Chris Christie rejected a bill today to raise the minimum wage…Christie said the Democrats’ bill, which would have raised the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 and tied future increases to the rate of inflation, would have hurt the state’s economy.” [Star-Ledger, 1/28/13]
  • LePage vetoed raising minimum wage raise to $9.00. In 2013 LePage vetoed a bill that “would incrementally increase the minimum wage from the current $7.50 per hour to $9 an hour by 2015, followed by annual increases tied to inflation… LePage wrote in his veto letter that Maine should focus on creating better jobs rather than improving its lowest-paying jobs.” [Bangor Daily News, 7/8/13]

Democratic Governors Have Implemented Paid Sick Leave Laws…

  • Gov. Malloy signed legislation making Connecticut the first state in the nation to “require employers to give paid sick days to all workers.” “State legislators approved a bill Saturday that requires employers to provide paid sick leave for its employees, making Connecticut the first state in the nation to do so. Governor Dannell Malloy is set to sign the bill that allows employees to earn up to five paid sick days per year. San Francisco and the District of Columbia already require employers to give paid sick days to all workers, and similar measures are pending in Philadelphia, Seattle, Denver, and New York City.”  [Ms. Magazine, Official Website Governor Malloy, 6/6/11]
  • Edmund “Jerry” Brown signed the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act which provides paid sick days to 40% of the workforce who did not currently have that benefit. California Governor Jerry Brown signed “signed the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (AB 1522) by Assembly member Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), which provides paid sick days to the millions of Californians — roughly 40% of the state’s workforce — who do not currently earn this benefit.”  [Press Release, Office of the Governor, 09/10/2014]

While Republican Governors Have Banned Them…

  • Rick Scott signed a bill to pro-actively block localities from enacting paid sick leave measures.  According to the Orlando Sentinel, “Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill Friday that would block local governments from enacting mandatory paid-sick-time measures, such as the one pending in Orange County.  The Republican governor sided with Walt Disney World, Darden Restaurants, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and a broad array of powerful business interests that argued the ban was needed to avoid a patchwork  of local employment rules for companies.”  [Orlando Sentinel, 6/14/14]
  • Scott Walker signed a law that “voids Milwaukee’s paid sick leave ordinance that was passed by voters.”  According to the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, “Gov. Scott Walker signed into law Thursday a measure that voids Milwaukee’s paid sick leave ordinance that was passed by voters in a referendum and upheld recently by the state Court of Appeals.  Walker, in Milwaukee on Thursday for the annual Governor’s Prayer Breakfast at the Italian Community Center, went to offices of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce offices to sign Senate Bill 23. The bill will pre-empt local ordinances from requiring businesses to provide paid sick leave to employees for family, medical or health issues.”  [Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, 5/5/11]

Democratic Governors Have Made College More Affordable…

  • Gov. Maggie Hassan restored funding for New Hampshire’s colleges and universities, froze in-state tuition to make college more affordable, and increased aid for scholarships at public and private universities and colleges.  According to Maggie Hassan’s campaign website, “Governor Hassan restored funding for NH’s colleges and universities, froze in-state tuition at the university system and cut tuition at our community colleges.”  The website also says, “The Governor launched a new effort to partner manufacturing companies directly with classes at local schools, building relationships that can lead to a stronger workforce pipeline. She increased aid for scholarships at both public and private colleges and universities.”  [Maggie Hassan for Governor website, accessed on 2/6/14]
  • Gov. John Hickenlooper Announced $3.4 Million In Grant Awards To Help Low-Income Or Underrepresented Students Afford College.  According to a press release from Governor John Hickenlooper, “Gov. John Hickenlooper and Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia today announced the award of $3.4 million in grant funds aimed at supporting Colorado students – especially those from low-income and/or underrepresented backgrounds – on the path to and through college and into the workforce.”  The announcement added, “The first phase of the Initiative involves increasing the availability and quality of student success programs for Colorado’s high school students and graduates…which will offer support to 20,380 students.”  [State of Colorado, Office of Gov. Hickenlooper website, 12/18/14] 

While Republican Governors Have Slashed Funding for Colleges…

  • Gov. Scott Walker proposed $300 million cut to Higher Education in Wisconsin.  According to the Wisconsin State Journal, “Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget cut of $300 million to the University of Wisconsin System comes as other states, nationally and in the Midwest, have inched up funding for higher education, restoring support lost during the economic recession. More increases are expected in coming years.” [Wisconsin State Journal, 2/1/15]
  • Gov. Rick Snyder final budget cut universities by 15 percent. “Critics said the budget makes overly painful cuts to public schools, universities, local governments and key services. School districts saw funding cut by 2.2 percent, which has led to widespread teacher layoffs. Universities saw their state funding cut 15 percent, and local governments will see about $100 million less.” [Detroit News, 6/21/11; Associated Press, 6/22/11]