WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) issued the following statement regarding President Obama's State of the Union speech:
"Tonight's State of the Union address was a good economic speech, laying out opportunities for Americans if our nation makes the right investments. President Obama detailed plans to support job growth, invest in a 21-century workforce, and make sure all American workers earn fair pay for the hard work they do. I agree with President Obama that it's time to move forward on legislation I co-sponsored that would increase the federal minimum wage and index it to inflation. Washington state, which has the nation's highest state minimum wage, has been a leader in this important national discussion.
"We also can't afford to let our workers fall behind in the innovation economy, which is why I was pleased to hear the President focus on addressing the skills gap in our workforce. Washington state – with its aerospace, technology, and manufacturing industries – knows the importance of ensuring our schools and training programs produce skilled workers that meet employers' needs. I was glad to hear President Obama's announcement of a new initiative to review training programs, invest in apprenticeships and connect companies to community college programs. I'd encourage President Obama and Vice President Biden to look directly to the example of Washington state, where the Air Washington program is pairing 14 community and technical colleges with local aerospace employers to close the aerospace skills gap. As we invest in job training programs, we must honor our veterans by helping them transition into civilian jobs here at home and giving them access to the health care they need.
"It's time for Congress to take action on bipartisan proposals for comprehensive immigration reform, infrastructure investment and growing our clean energy economy. I'm especially pleased with President Obama's focus on agriculture exports and our trade economy. In Washington state, we know that the Farm Bill is one of the most important jobs bills that Congress can pass right now. Agriculture supports 160,000 jobs in Washington state, from the Port of Seattle to the wheat fields of the Palouse. I applaud the bipartisan progress on the Farm Bill this week and I urge my colleagues in Congress to pass this important legislation."