Youngblood starts 11th term as first African-American female leader in General Assembly
HARRISBURG, Jan. 6 – Starting her 11th term as the first black female to hold a leadership post in the Pennsylvania General Assembly’s history, state Rep. Rosita C. Youngblood, D-Phila., took the oath of office for the 2015-16 legislative session vowing to fight for increased education funding, raising the minimum wage, expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act and ensuring equal opportunity for all citizens.
Selected by her peers as House Democratic Caucus secretary, Youngblood now holds a key spot on the leadership team, with the added duties of helping chart and implement strategy and direction for House Democrats. First elected in 1994, Youngblood said she will continue to fight for the principles and priorities that put people first. And she stated that becoming the first black female to hold a leadership position in the history of the Pennsylvania legislature comes with a responsibility to focus on issues that support working families, including ensuring that every Pennsylvanian obtains equal pay for equal work, along with employment protection for pregnant and sick employees.
“I am honored to be elevated by my fellow Democrats to their leadership team,” Youngblood said. “With the help of Governor-elect Tom Wolfe, we are enthusiastic about a change in direction and priorities from the previous administration, which failed the students of Philadelphia, and students all across the commonwealth, by short-changing needed funding for public education. And the importance of funding full-day kindergarten programs that give children a jump start in education has been ignored. We need to shift our focus to helping people succeed – and the best way to do that is to put the needs of people first.”
Youngblood said Pennsylvania needs to commit necessary funds to schools, instead of allowing out-of-state gas companies to skirt around paying their fair share of taxes. She also strongly believes that the state needs to close tax loopholes that encourage corporations to avoid paying taxes, which places the burden of paying for state programs on the backs of everyday citizens.
“The previous administration failed to tackle the issue of tax fairness, and the results were catastrophic for students and working families across the commonwealth,” Youngblood said. “If we stop the giveaways to out-of-state companies and implement a few small changes to state tax laws, we could raise enough money to allow the state to fund much-needed investments. There is no reason why we should not follow the lead of other states in raising the minimum wage to lift workers out of poverty, do the sensible thing by expanding Medicaid to take full advantage of federal funding under the Affordable Care Act, and ensure workers can pay for college or other advanced education for themselves and their children.”