McClellan Announced Plan to Rebuild Equitable Economy on Sunday
RICHMOND – In this evening’s Virginia Democratic Party Forum, candidate for governor Senator Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) laid out her vision for rebuilding and revitalizing the economy following the COVID-19 crisis. McClellan outlined her economic plan — which she released on Sunday — to lead Virginia boldly forward with major investments in small, women, and minority-owned businesses, protections for workers and an equitable and inclusive approach to ensure increased economic opportunity in every corner of the Commonwealth, leaving no Virginian behind.
During the forum, McClellan said that she would make fully funding education her top priority and her first bill.
Find highlights from McClellan’s comments at the forum below:
“[Del. Aird], as you know because you and I have worked together for the last two years, bare minimum, we’re not fully funding the needs of our K 12 system. Now, the Board of Education’s recommended Standards of Quality that included an equity fund, lifting the cap on state funding of support personnel to not just teachers but social workers, nurses, assistant principals, mental health professionals. You and I have tried for two years to fully fund that and fully implement that. As governor, that would be my number one priority in the first budget that I introduce, and the first bill that I send down.”
“Before COVID, there was an equity gap between schools. Now there’s an equity gap in classrooms, I am coming to you from my daughter’s room. As we are recording this, she’s downstairs and my son is in his room on a laptop, trying to learn. I have seen firsthand some kids are not logging in. Whether they don’t have access to broadband, they don’t have a parent who can help them, or who knows. So we’ve got to assess where kids are, and then meet them where they are to get them where they should be by the end of the school year before we can move forward.”
ON SUPPORTING SMALL BUSINESS:
“We’ve got to close the digital divide and make sure that all restaurants and brick and mortar retail are all businesses that need an online presence, have access to an online presence. They can’t wait five to 10 years – they need that now.”
ON SUPPORTING WORKERS:
“Before COVID, there was inequity in the system, and it was widespread. Part of it is rooted in decades — and in some cases centuries — of policy that caused Black and brown people to only have access to low-wage jobs, jobs that were excluded from a minimum wage. We’ve made progress to fix that by extending the minimum wage to domestic workers. But we still need to include foreign workers. We’ve extended it to homecare workers. We’ve made progress to increase the minimum wage to $15, but we need to do it faster. I’ll ensure that it gets done during my administration.”
“We have to make sure that the workplace COVID safety measures that have been put in place stay in place. I have fought efforts to weaken them and we’ll continue to fight efforts to weaken them. We need to make sure that our workers have access to good wages, to benefits. That includes sick leave and paid family medical leave, whether they are classified as employees or independent contractors… because this crisis has shown more than ever how interconnected health and the ability to work are.”
“I was chief co-patron of Senator Jennifer Boysko’s bill that would have completely repealed the prohibition of public employees collective bargaining both local and state. It would have created a state agency to help manage issues around collective bargaining for public employees, and so that’s the gold standard that we should be pushing towards in the future. And I fully support that.”
ON HEALTH CARE:
“We made tremendous progress by expanding Medicaid, by creating a state based health care exchange, which I carried that bill I’m going to have to implement as governor. Working together, we can make sure that we are continuing to close the gap. As people’s circumstances change, we get them in the right insurance program and that’ll help reduce costs.”
“Virginia has a complicated history, We were the birthplace of modern democracy and the birthplace of American slavery. We have come a long way, but we’ve never really grappled with how our history still impacts our present. It is time we use policy to address the inequity that’s been there since the beginning, in a way that brings people together and unites us, because we do have more in common than not. But we’ve got to focus on our common humanity.”
Over the past 15 years, McClellan has been a legislative leader in the fight to increase worker protections, championing efforts to raise the minimum wage, expand unemployment insurance, and establish paid family and medical leave, and paid sick leave. McClellan’s record of fighting for extended worker protections includes passing measures the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, the Pregnant Worker Fairness Act, and the Virginia Values Act. McClellan also carried the Solar Freedom Act, unleashing the power of solar energy in Virginia, and the Virginia Clean Economy Act, which will bring 13,000 clean energy jobs to Virginia annually.