KENNEDY IN SUPPORT OF DEMOCRATIC BUDGET
(As Prepared for Delivery)
Our budget puts working families first - not Wall Street, but Main Street America.
Long before the experts began sounding the alarm, working families knew that our economy wasn't working for them. They know that when the economy is wrong, nothing else is quite right.
Their mortgages were going up and banks were foreclosing on their homes.
Gas prices and heating oil prices were going through the roof.
College costs were escalating every single year.
Medical costs were soaring.
And now, they're losing their jobs.
Businesses cut 63,000 jobs last month, on top of the cuts they made in January. This is the first time in five years that our economy has lost jobs for two months in a row. These losses are a sure sign that the economy is falling fast into a recession. Working families who are already living on the brink need help, and they need it now.
If we want an economic recovery that works, our efforts must start and end with working families. The Democratic budget proposal does just that, making America's workers our top priority.
Our budget may not provide all the answers, but it's a good start.
Democrats know we need to jump-start the economy and help families in crisis. We must help the millions of Americans pounding the pavement looking for work each day. That means extending and improving unemployment benefits to help millions of workers transition to new jobs and boost our economy. Our budget funds these benefits and other measures needed to help families struggling to make ends meet.
Our budget also creates hundreds of thousands of new jobs by investing in our roads, schools, and bridges. 3,000 of these projects are ready to go and will immediately create jobs for Americans with good wages and benefits. These are jobs located right here in America and will lay the groundwork for our nation's success in a new global economy.
Democrats also know we must make smart investments in renewable energy to ease the crushing burden of energy costs while creating hundreds of thousands of "green jobs" here in America. Our budget makes these critical investments.
We also must equip our citizens - young and old - to compete and win in today's global economy.
This budget starts with new investments in early childhood education, by increasing funding by over $400 million.
It helps every child move forward with new investments in teachers and in troubled schools. It puts us on track to double funding for Title I over the next 5 years.
With this year's increase alone, our schools can:
* Hire 35,000 new teachers to reduce class sizes and provide students with individualized attention;
* Provide high quality professional development for 100,000 teachers to assist them in teaching 21st century skills; and
* Enroll 1 million more children in high quality after-school programs.
And it strengthens our commitment to making college more affordable by providing funding for a $4,800 maximum Pell Grant - keeping our promise to increase the grant to $5,400 by 2012.
This budget also includes $414 million more for job training programs, which is greatly needed after years of cuts in job training programs under this Administration. This funding will allow 165,000 more workers to retool their skills for 21st century jobs.
By putting workers first, we can pump real dollars into the economy now and make sure that American businesses have access to a workforce unmatched anywhere in the world. A recession may be upon us, but we know that bold investments in our workers today will mean a brighter future for our families tomorrow and in the years to come.