Senator John Glenn: Thank you all for being here today and it is great to be back home in southeast Ohio, Annie and I grew up just down the road in New Concord, as most of you are aware. A real pleasure to be here today, I don’t think if anything is more appropriate than having an economic summit here, not just because of this part of Ohio, but for the whole country; all the things we talk about are going to happen or not happen as the economy of the country dictates on what we can do for the future. That’s why it’s so important, and I know there are lots of people to give their opinions on this today, we welcome them all here to Ohio. It’s my pleasure to introduce to you another person from the southern and southeastern part of Ohio, our great Governor Ted Strickland who was a minister, a psychologist, and a great new governor. Ted Strickland.
Governor Ted Strickland: Thank you very much. As the governor of this wonderful state, I am so proud to have so many of our special guests with us today. I’m always happy to present Ohio and it’s a greatness to people from outside of our state. As I have said many times, Ohio is a state that is a microcosm of America. We have incredible diversity in Ohio, and we celebrate that diversity. We have the wonderful foothills of the Appalachian Mountains and we have the great Lake Erie to the north; we have natural resources that are immense. We have racial and ethnic and cultural and religious, economic and geographic diversity like few other states. Ohio is a state with a proud history. Ohio and Ohioans, Senator, have not just built Ohio; Ohioans have built America, and we are proud of our history.
But Ohio like many states is facing economic challenges. Too many of our families are facing the possibility of losing their homes through foreclosure. Too many of our workers have lost and are in danger of losing their jobs. Too many Ohioans, possibly as many as 1.3 million Ohioans are without health care insurance or coverage for health care needs. Too many of Ohioans are deployed in this conflict, more Ohio National Guard men and women, Senator, are deployed today then at any time since World War II. And we keep them in our hearts and in our prayers, and pray for a speedy recovery and a return to their home.
Having said that, it is appropriate that the eyes of the nation are focused on Ohio; and that we are focused on the economy because I believe we have a candidate in Senator Clinton who understand Ohio and who understands the economic burdens facing our people and our state. I have traveled this state with her. I have sat with her as she has talked with real people facing real challenges. The reason that I am so excited about this event is because I believe Ohio wants to hear what is going to be done to create jobs, to expand opportunity and to make a decent life available to the people who live within the borders of our wonderful state. So thank you Senator for coming to this part of Ohio, and for traveling around all of Ohio. We look forward to your leadership today, in the weeks to come, and once you are in the White House. Welcome to Ohio.
Senator Hillary Clinton: I am especially pleased to be here and especially to be with two of your native sons: Senator John Glenn who is so well known and honored across our country and the world, and your dynamic, effective governor Ted Strickland. This is a great opportunity for us to talk about not just the problems which people know pretty well for themselves, but what kind of solutions we can put together that will improve the economy, produce more jobs, enable us to keep the jobs that are here, increase the prosperity, make sure young people can stay home near their families in order to make a living, build a strong and prosperous middle class again. So I’m very excited about being here with distinguished guests. You’ll meet them in a minute; they come from across Ohio and America to be right here in Zanesville, “The Y Bridge City.” The mayor told me about the Y bridge, and I don’t know how many Y bridges there are, but just another in- that’s pretty impressive.
Senator Glenn: This is the only one that cars can drive on, the other one is in Germany, and it is a pedestrian bridge. This is the only one in the world.
Senator Hillary Clinton: Well that’s a great distinction, congratulations. So we came to a place that is already quite unique, here in the Y Bridge City, to talk about the future. We’re joined by distinguished guests from across the state as well as the country; elected officials, leaders from labor and business and education, and some hard-working Ohioans who you’ll hear from.
Now we may have come from different backgrounds but we’re all here with the same purpose. And that is- when it comes to our economy, we know we can do a lot better. I have been across Ohio and across America for more than a year, actually going back about 16 years when I was first privileged to travel extensively in our country. This has been a great opportunity for me to hear firsthand from the people who are worried about their jobs because they’ve already seen those jobs be shipped over seas. They’re worried about losing health care, because they’ve already seen that health care lost. They’re worried about affording college because they’ve already seen too many young people from too many hard working families who are having a hard time affording the rising costs. They’ve already seen energy prices go up so fast over the last 7 years that the average family is paying more then $2,000 in energy today then they were in 2000.
So people are living with the realities, and they’re meeting them with the grit and determination that we would expect from Ohioans and Americans. But it’s time that we had a president who is going to be a fighter and a champion for the American people again, who would get up everyday-
Who would get up everyday and would say what are we going to do together, to the White House staff and the Cabinet and the government and the business and labor leaders in our country; what are we going to today to improve the lives of young hard working Americans? What are we going to do to rebuild a strong and prosperous middle class? That is my mission. That is what I would do as your president. I see a middle class comeback and I see it starting in places like Zanesville.
It won’t happen though just by hoping for it, it will only happen if we are determined and we have a plan and we implement it, and we see the results. And that’s what I intend to do. I put forth my Economic Blueprint for the 21st century; it includes a lot of the specifics that I’ve been traveling around Ohio talking about. We’re going to rein in the corporate special interests; we can take back $55 billion in tax giveaways that the Republicans and George Bush have handed out to the oil companies, to the drug companies, to the health insurance companies. We’re going to say “wait a minute Wall Street; you’ve had your president. Now we need a president for Main Street.” And we’re going to make that happen.
We’re going to start investing in manufacturing again. I believe you can’t have a strong economy unless you have a strong manufacturing sector. We can’t rely on other countries to produce what the American military needs. So it’s not only a question for our economy, it’s a question for our national security. I believe we could create at least five million green collar jobs with clean renewable energy that would put Ohioans to work starting soon. I also know that if we invest in our infrastructure – more bridges, tunnels, roads, water systems, sanitation systems – we would put a lot of people to work and we would upgrade our infrastructure for the 21st century. In order to do that, we’re going to close every tax loophole that still gives one penny of your tax dollars to any company that exports a job. Instead we’re going to put that money to work here.
We’re going to address the home foreclosure and mortgage crisis, you’ll hear a little bit about that today. Too many Ohioans are losing their homes; the numbers are staggering: 150,000 homes and foreclosures last year; 13,000 notices went out in January alone. These are a lot of hard working people who thought they were going to right thing. I’ve said we should have a moratorium on home foreclosures. Let’s figure out as way to work out keeping people in their homes, instead of having vacant houses in neighborhoods that will decrease property values for everybody.
I believe we need universal health care, no exceptions, no excuses, and I know we can achieve that.
We do need affordable college again, something that is one of my highest priorities. It is now more expensive for a young person to go to college in America than it was thirty and forty years ago, that’s wrong. Through a combination of tax credit and aid, reining in the student loan companies that have been acting like predatory lenders, we’re going to go back to direct lending to help students afford to go to college. And if they come out with debt, if they are willing to do a public service job like teaching or nursing or law enforcement, we will forgive their debt so that they can be debt free.
We’re going to start supporting our unions again, because when unions were strong we had a strong middle class. It’s not an accident. It’s time that working people had a president on their side again. Finally, we are going to have trade that lifts up our families: pro-worker, pro-environment, pro-American trade. That’s going to be one of my highest priorities. I know that NAFTA has hurt a lot of Ohio’s families. That’s why I have taken action; I’m the only candidate with a comprehensive plan to fix NAFTA. And I will also crack down on China’s unfair trade practices, including currency manipulation which gives them big advantages over our companies and our country.
We’re not just here to talk about what I want to do; I want to hear what people have to say about what we can do together. We have an extraordinary group of people, and I want to hear about the challenges that they face. I’m going to ask each person to introduce him or herself because I want your advice. I will be a president, just as I have been a senator, who listens. I think you learn more when you’re listening than when you are talking. And what is necessary for Zanesville may not be the same as Toledo, may not be the same as San Antonio, may not be the same as Chicago or New York. So we need to look closely at what will work in communities across Ohio and America. I think that we’ve got some great opportunities here. We hear a lot about the problems and they are serious but I believe for every problem, there is at least one solution. We just have to start acting like Americans again and roll up our sleeves and actually solve our problems. No more whining, no more finger pointing, let’s get to work.
I’d like to start our discussion today by hearing from the Ohioans who have graciously taken their time out to join us. I want to start with Dave Cimperman. Dave and I met at Grace’s Grill in Parma last week. David has worked at General Motors for more than forty years, and he sees the economy from the front lines of the work force. I want to ask Dave if you can share with us what you see as the key economic challenges facing you and your family.
Dave Cimperman: Senator, one of the big things that I see is the universal health care. General Motors is paying each, is charging $1,600 per vehicle because of the health care that they’re giving us. They’re competing with automobile companies in Japan… It’s time we got one.
Senator Hillary Clinton: Well, obviously I agree with Dave and I’m really happy he mentioned this because there are two very important reasons that we should have universal health care. The first is that it is the morally right thing to do. I do not believe people in our country should be denied access to quality, affordable health care. And the second reason is there is no doubt in my mind, as Dave just said, we have lost jobs over the last 20 years and increasingly over the last seven years where we’ve lost, in Ohio alone, 200,000 jobs in manufacturing while George Bush has been president. And one of the main reasons is health care costs. Because as Dave said, General Motors has to put $1,600 of its money into ever car, imagine what a competitive disadvantage that is. Other countries don’t impose that burden on their companies, and particularly on their manufacturers. So it’s economically necessary for us to achieve universal health care. Dave, you’ve been working for General Motors for quite some time; are there other issues in addition to universal health care that we have to address?
Dave Cimperman: We would like to see a more even trade policies. There are a number of them that we are allowed limited number of vehicles to countries and we take up a lot more coming into this country. I must mention, Senator, that the same forty years I worked for General Motors, I was also a United Auto Workers, in the union, I’m still in the union. I’m giving you my opinions, not the union’s opinions. But there are many, many members who feel the same way I do, and are backing you.
Senator Hillary Clinton: Thank you, well, I’ve worked with the UAW for years, and I know that they share your commitment to universal health care and to leveling the playing field so that we have a chance to compete. American workers are the best in the world, we’re most productive. We just need to be unshackled so we can compete fairly and that’s what we are going to try to achieve, so thank you very much Dave.
Now I’d like to welcome Robert Landry and Beth Dlabay. I met them in Dayton, and they’ve driven all the way from Dayton to be with us today. On Christmas Eve, Robert and Beth lost their home in a home foreclosure. I know what a shock that was to them because I heard them talk about it. But I want to really personalize these statistics. Millions of people have lost their homes in the last several years. The Bush administration has taken little to no action to try to prevent it. I have a plan to try to stop the home foreclosure crisis. But I want you to hear from Robert and Beth what it means when you’re actually faced with that. Robert, why don’t you start; can you tell us how this happened to you? And then you and Beth tell us how you’re managing now.
Robert Landry: well, you know, it just starts where you’re just doing your thing. You’re working, you got a decent job, you’re paying your bills on time. All of the sudden you notice one of your payments isn’t taken out. You call the mortgage company up and you ask them what’s going on. Then you find out, they say “it’s lost, just wait.” Okay. Then the next thing you know, but what you don’t know is you’re being marked late, they’re hitting your credit and you find out that you’ve got a predatory loan that’s going to reset in a couple months. The next time you try to pay it on time, they do the same thing, they mark you late. Then you cannot refinance with a good rate. And you start freaking out. This is your home; your grandkids depend on you; you’ve got a good job. This can’t happen to me. There’s laws and you call, you do everything. You write the governor and- not this governor-
Governor Ted Strickland: Thank you.
Robert Landry: And he gives me a letter saying it’s not within his jurisdiction. I didn’t know the law, but I thought well maybe he could make a phone call or something. I don’t know. Maybe because it’s not just me, it’s happening to a lot of people. You fill a loan, the bottom drops out of your whole life. You think your doing to right thing, and then it’s all over. They give you a number to the Bar Association; you get a real estate lawyer. You go in there, they say, “well I can research it for four hours and write a nasty letter for $800,” and you’ve already paid some late- they say you were late, they say you have late fees. Then you call again. You’ve got records that your right, you’ve got everything, you did, your bank gave you print outs for months. You present that to them and they say “no, you’re still late, no, you’re still late, you still owe us another $1,000 from when you first started paying two years ago” or something. You just don’t know what to do.
The bottom line is, you don’t know what to do and you’re lost. I finally got a hold of fair housing, Miami Valley Fair Housing, and they’re non-profit and they helped us out. But they made us go through a rigorous interview to get involved in their process. At least after months of them making me go through classes to make sure I could pay my bills, when I already was, they finally agreed to take us on. But they sent out RESPA letters for me. You’re required by law to answer these letters, you’re required to stop hitting a person’s credit and you have to tell them or every penny went. Well, they don’t answer them because it’s a small fine. It’s insignificant compared to the value of your home. So, long story short, we just needed someone to be there for us and we felt lost.
We voted, you know, that’s the only thing you can do is vote for change and we voted for Governor Strickland. I almost feel like it worked, my one vote worked because I’m sitting right next to him.
Senator Hillary Clinton: Beth, do you want to add anything to what Robert said?
Beth Dlabay: It was just really difficult because, in the meantime our granddaughter that was living with us had to undergo open heart surgery and the lender’s attorney did not want to wait on us to sign the papers, they just wanted us to sign the papers and get out. Well, we had to travel from Dayton to Cincinnati and find somebody else to take care of our other two grandchildren because she had to have a pulmonary valve put in. They didn’t care. If it hadn’t been for the Miami Valley Fair Housing Center I really don’t know what we would have done. And there’s too many people, they can’t even help them. There’s a lot more people. We got out of it, we’re fine, our granddaughter’s fine, we’re going to make it. We found another house to live in. we got the kids Christmas, we made sure we had a tree up Christmas Eve even though we had to be out. I got everything ready for them and when we went and got them, they had Christmas. That’s the important thing, I just wish that Miami Valley Fair Housing Center could help more people like us but they need the funding; they don’t get it. I don’t want any other family to have to go what we went through, ever.
Senator Hillary Clinton: When I first met Robert and Beth in Dayton they had one of their grandsons with them and it was so impressive to me the way Robert explained how he’d always paid his bills; he was raised in a family where you’re supposed to pay your bills. He sent in the check, and this is one of the many scams that these lenders get away with- where they claim you’re late. You can show when you sent it, and they say well we didn’t receive it. And you of course can’t control when they claim they received it. Then they use those late payments to force a higher interest rate on you. Force you into refinancing. It’s just a terrible abuse that does need to be cracked down on. And Robert is right–the fine is so small it’s worth a lot of these companies just gambling. So I think there needs to be criminal consequences and much tougher fines to rein in these lenders.
As Beth said, we need more help to the organizations that are trying to save people’s homes and I have a proposal where we would put money into doing just that, help communities that are facing a high foreclosure rate. As the governor knows so well, Ohio has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country, I think it’s like number nine in the whole country. This is a big issue that affects so many families here. We’re so lucky to have Governor Strickland with us because he’s been working hard to turn around Ohio, and he has lots of great ideas about how he’s going to improve the economic lives of people across the state. So Governor, I’d like to ask you to tell us what you think are the three most pressing economic challenges that you face as the governor of Ohio.
Governor Ted Strickland: Senator, we have huge budget challenges. We passed a budget not many months ago unanimously. Every Republican and every Democrat in the Senate voted for it and all but one member of the House of Representatives voted for it; although both chambers are controlled by the Republican Party, we were able to work together to fashion a budget that identified priorities for Ohio. We wanted a budget that would provide health care coverage for all of our children, we wanted a budget that would freeze college tuition after ten straight years of annual increases in tuition of 9%, every year for ten years, making Ohio 47% more costly for our young people to go to an Ohio public college or university than was the national average. We did some really good things in a very bipartisan way.
But the economy’s had a downturn. The national economy is affecting what’s happening here in Ohio. And so I’ve been faced, just within the last few weeks, of having to make some very painful decisions because we’ve had to cut over $730 million out of the budget. These decisions affect real people, real families and real children. So, if I were to give you the three things that I think could be most helpful to Ohio and, quite frankly, these are the reasons that I’m supporting you. I’ve known you for 15 years but I wouldn’t support you if I didn’t think you were the best candidate for Ohio.
In Ohio, as is the case in many other states, 21 states are now having to go back and revisit their budgets. 21 states and that number is growing. So, we have huge rising Medicaid expenditures in Ohio. So if we had a heath care system that could provide health care coverage to everyone in a plan-fu, rational way, it would make such a huge difference. I say to people “can you imagine what life would be like if all of us had access to affordable health care? Can we imagine the burden that would be taken off the shoulders of moms and dads knowing that their loved ones had access to health care coverage? What it would do to our businesses in terms of making them more competitive if they didn’t have this burden?”
So Senator, I believe, and I’m going to sound very political here but I’m going to do it because I think it’s absolutely true, I think you are the only candidate that can help us realize a Democratic dream, an American dream; since the days of Harry Truman we’ve tried to get universal health care coverage for the American people and we’ve been unable to. We are finally at a place where that can happen. The physicians, the health care providers now know it’s necessary. The business leaders in our state now know it’s necessary. I think things are coming together. What we need right now is a president that is committed to getting it done. I am convinced that the one thing that could be helpful to all Ohioans and to our overall economy is what you will do as president–that’s bring universal health care coverage to our people.
The second thing we need, and I’ll be quick, we need jobs. We need jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs.
And I’m proposing a $1.7 billion bond package that will create jobs in Ohio but I know that you’re working on that at the federal level. You understand that we’ve got to start investing in America. We’ve got to start building the infrastructure that is necessary to repair our roads and bridges and sewer systems and water systems to help local communities build our country. That will create jobs and so that’s the second thing.
And the third thing is certainly education because education is the ultimate hope for our people and making sure we have a good, high-quality educational experience for our children from their youngest years through even graduate work and the adult worker up to the time of retirement. These are the three things that I think Ohio needs. I think they’re the things that you as president will accomplish. If we can get that done, you become president and you do those three things for Ohio, we’re going to say you were a pretty good president.
Senator Hillary Clinton: Well, you will have a partner in the White House to really tackle all of these challenges because they’re so important. And you’ve given us a lot to think about. One of the issues that I’d like to get into because it’s related to what governor Strickland said is both an economic opportunity and a way of giving people a real shot at the American dream–that’s housing. What are we going to do to provide more housing that’s affordable? And what are we going to do to deal with this home foreclosure crisis? Someone whom I admire so much is current governor of New Jersey, Jon Corzine, who’s with us. He is also a former United States Senator with whom I served. And he was before that the Chief Executive Officer of one of the largest, most successful financial firms in the world, Goldman Sachs. So he’s had a lot of experience in both the public and the private sector. So Governor Corzine, two questions – specifically with respect to the housing crisis, how would you have approached a financial challenge like this when you were in the private sector, and what steps do you think we should take both at the state and the federal level? And then in addition, same question to you that I asked Governor Strickland, the three big challenges that you’re coping with as Governor, Governor Corzine.
Governor Jon Corzine: Thank you Senator Clinton and it’s great to be here in Ohio and be with the great Senator Glenn, Governor Strickland and all the citizens. I have to say, Senator Clinton, the stories that I’ve heard already from the people here and the problems that’s Governor Strickland outlined sound like I’m back home in New Jersey. We have people that struggle every day to make ends meet on health care issues, on housing issues; they’re worried about their jobs. We’re actually just closing right now the last General Motors auto production plant in our state. We had five auto production plants 15, 20 years ago. We are going to have no auto production at all. So these are real issues. The housing crisis that we have in the country–foreclosures, predatory lending, facts that people got into, home ownership under false pretenses by people who sold them more than they could actually carry are things that you were talking about when I was a United States Senator. Predatory lending was one of the things that we worked on together. This is not something that Senator Clinton didn’t recognize before that’s why I know she’s the most qualified individual to be the president.
And I’m an old washed up finance person but, I’ll tell you, if you got in trouble in a corporate situation you’d go to your bank and you’d talk about having a moratorium on debt payments. You’d negotiate a new loan agreement. Senator Clinton has talked about that for the American people that are having trouble with their mortgages. We need a freeze on the rates of subprime adjustable lending that Robert talked about. You can’t- we’re better to actually get Robert to be able pay something than nothing.
Robert Landry: 14.9.
Governor Jon Corzine: It’s ridiculous, its ridiculous and it needs to be dealt with. The second thing is we need to have a moratorium on foreclosures altogether so that people can catch up and make a difference. Senator Clinton proposed these things six months ago, not now. This is something she recognized before the housing prices became a huge problem. I think that speaks to the kind of president she’d be, not only about this issue, but a lot of issues, because she has the foresight to see how we ought to be addressing them.
I have to tell you as a governor, she’s also got another element of her plan where she wants to put $30 billion into funds that actually would get distributed to Governor Strickland or New Jersey or states across- so that we can actually work with families more closely. We’re all struggling with our budgets but if the federal government doesn’t offer a partnership it won’t happen. Also I can tell you that both from my business background and from my life as New Jersey’s governor, I can tell you that the plans that she’s laid down are practical, they show real solutions, they’re far more than words. They are the real deal. This is how you get out of this crisis. Senator Clinton is onto the right track.
Senator Hillary Clinton: As Governor Corzine said, jobs are a problem everywhere. Some places are harder hit than other places but the issue really is how do we keep the jobs we have and how do we create more jobs? I’ve been pleased the last several days to have a number of New Yorkers travelling across Ohio talking about the work we’ve done together to try to keep and grow jobs. I am grateful that I’ve been a partner with people like Gary Douglas who’s the very active president of one of our Chambers of Commerce in New York who has been just focused on keeping jobs and bringing jobs to his part of the state. It’s really important that we zero in on what works. How are we going to keep and grow jobs? I’d like to turn now to your Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher. He is the Director of the Department of Development here in Ohio and Lieutenant Governor Fisher is on the cutting edge of trying to bring advanced clean energy jobs to Ohio. This is an issue that I am both passionate about and very excited so I would love to hear from Lieutenant Governor Fisher about the steps you are taking to try to create clean energy jobs in Ohio.
Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher: Senator Clinton, Governor Strickland has given me the double honor not just to serve as his Lieutenant Governor but also to serve as his Director of Economic Development and so I wake up every single morning focused on one thing and one thing only–and that is jobs and economic growth so that every Ohioan, no matter where they live, no matter who they are, has the economic opportunity that many of us have had. I, like Governor Strickland, have had the opportunity to know you for many years; in my case 17 years. And I know the governor and I want more than anything else a partner in the White House who not only will come up with the solutions but understands the problems because she has actually dealt with them in her capacity not just as an elected official but as a private individual. Cities like Zanesville and Cleveland and Toledo are not new to you because you’ve been travelling to our cities for 16 years and I can tell you that I believe that our greatest strength in our state is the fact that we, under Governor Strickland’s leadership, are marrying our proud past with an even more dynamic future.
Let me explain what I mean. Ohio is known for many things but I would say more than anything it is known for three things. First, that we are the seed-bed of invention, entrepreneurship, innovation, and exploration. The best example of exploration being none other than U.S. Senator John Glenn. And I think you know that these days that we measure the strength of our economy not just by the height of our smoke stacks or the strength of our backs but also by the depth of our innovation and the strength of our ideas, which is why what we are doing is taking advantage of our strong manufacturing base. We are the third largest manufacturing state in our country. And why we are taking advantage of our agricultural base, as the largest economic force in our state, and actually converting that into the future. Examples? We’re going from bicycles, to bio fuels. We’re going from gliders to turbine engines and lunar rockets. We’re going from cellulose and cord and soy beans to ethanol and other biofuels. We’re going from a manufacturing base to wind turbines.
Just this afternoon I spoke to a CEO of a company called Minster Machine where Governor Strickland recently visited. This is a company that began as a blacksmith’s shop 111 years ago. They are known as a strong but small manufacturing company. The CEO, a year ago, after Governor Strickland was elected, and I think primarily because Governor Strickland was elected, decided to look into doing something new. They have started a division of Minster Machine called Minster Wind. And they are right now, with our help and with the help of other partners, creating a wind division and taking advantage of the fact that Ohio has got this supply chain of manufacturers that can make the gearboxes and all the bearings and all the components of windmills. But they want to do more. They actually want to make the windmill itself. They don’t just want to be the component parts. Today we have over 60 manufacturing companies that are helping supply wind power around the world. And I believe that under Governor Strickland’s leadership and the $1.7 billion jobs plan that he recently announced, we will end up setting aside, I believe, more funds in our state, Senator, than any other state in the country– perhaps even more than New Jersey and New York. For alternative advanced energy, we’ve already set aside $1 billion in low interest loans to private companies wanting to get into the wind business. And if the Governor’s plan passes this November, and I hope with all of your support we’ll have not only a new president of the United States by the name of Hillary Clinton, but that we’ll also have a new jobs plan that will set aside – but that we’ll also have a jobs plan in November that will set aside $250 million above and beyond what we’ve already set aside for bringing Ohio into the 21st century and moving Ohio to the head of the class.
Senator Hillary Clinton: That’s exciting. Very exciting, Lee. You know, other countries have a head start on us. Denmark gets a lot of its energy, now, from wind. As a result it’s been manufacturing a lot of the windmills and obviously exporting them. Germany is getting a great deal of economic benefit from investing in solar power and creating hundreds of thousands of jobs. And they’ve done exactly what you’re describing. The government said “look, we’ve got to help start the market for this. We’ve got to have the low interest loans. We have to make the investments. We have to train the work force.” That’s why I’ve been a strong proponent of green collar jobs and passed the first training program to start getting people equipped to do this work. But I believe that we can create at least five million new jobs in America over the next ten years. And that’s the kind of visionary work that you’re doing.
Continuing our focus on jobs, which is the key here, I’d like to turn to Gary Dwyer who is the Secretary Treasurer for the Ohio State Building and Construction Trades Council. Gary Dwyer is a 33 year member of the Iron Workers. He currently represents 90,000 union construction workers in Ohio. Gary, we would love to hear your views about the best ways to create good jobs here in the state.
Secretary Treasurer Gary Dwyer: Thank you very much Senator. And when you say the title, I’m from the Ohio State Building Trade. And that’s what we like to do: build. We like to build buildings, bridges, everything. I want to tell you four brief stories if you let me about what happened to me in my personal career. When I joined the Ironworkers Local 17 in Cleveland, Ohio. At local we had 400 ironworkers in the steel mills every single day. 400. Today I don’t even think sometimes you can even find 4 ironworkers in those mills. Where did those jobs go? They’re not up in Cleveland anymore. I recently went up to Cleveland– I’ve been away for over three years- and one of the biggest jobs that was going when I left was the job of dismantling the steel mill and sending that steel mill to China. It really saddens me when I go by that old vacant spot where the steel mill used to be and now it’s a retail store. I think we have enough of these strip shopping malls in different places and we need to get back to our real manufacturing jobs, and our base.
One of the highlights of my career as an ironworker was I was in charge of the children’s Christmas party every year and I did it for over 12 years. It was my job to go out and find union made toys for my 2,000 members’ children. I would come out and worked very hard and my kids thought I was the greatest thing in the world when I would go and buy hundreds of different toys. After a couple years the list of union made toys started getting smaller. So finally I had to go to the second alternative and that was “Made in America.” And I did that for about three or four years and the catalogue that used to be that big started getting down and down and down. Some of the names that you know like Tonka, Etch-a-Sketch, all these things that I had bought for many, many years were no longer made in the United States. They were gone.
Once again, I told you, we like to build things. Other effects when the jobs go out of town, we don’t build new buildings and put those companies in, those manufacturing, my people, we just don’t work anymore. One of the saddest stories I have. We built a building, a brand new state of the art building up in Cleveland, Senator, and I’m sure you’ve heard the name Mr. Coffee. No longer than we even built that building and the next thing, it was gone. They moved to Mexico. After they were in Mexico I think they moved to a couple other countries and then a couple other countries. The price kept going down, what they were willing to pay for that wage. But you know what? When you go in the store to buy that coffee maker, I’ve never seen the price go down. It’s pretty sad. I’m not sure what happened to all those buildings that are sitting vacant.
I used to live on the east side of Cleveland and I can tell you all these horror stories. The stories that add Addressograph, Multi-craft, Fisher Price, Coit, all the different jobs are sitting up there vacant so when you build things and you have all these vacant buildings it’s not a good thing. We have a lot of good hopes with you coming on. We look forward to building our manufacturing base. And I can tell you that things are changing around and it’s changing in Ohio because I had the opportunity – and this is quite unique here – I had the privilege and honor to go with Lieutenant Governor Fisher to Japan for a trade mission. When was the last time that a labor official got to go? Myself and two other labor officials got an opportunity to go. And the thing that I came out with, when we were competing for jobs and the Lieutenant Governor was up there talking, everyone was saying “you’ve got to come here I’m from this business, I’m from this business.” He always said the same thing “I’m here with the largest delegate of business and labor and we want your business here in Ohio.” I want to thank you very much for that.
We’re all in this together. And if we don’t think like that, if we don’t continue to have these discussions, we’re all going to be going down the wayside by ourselves. We have started labor managements; we’ve been talking about them from day one now. How do we stay competitive and how do we start talking? Senator, thank you for listening. I cannot tell you how excited I was to be invited to this panel and then can actually- and please do me a favor, when you’re president, keep these conversations going.
Senator Hillary Clinton: Yes, yes. Great idea.
DWYER: In closing I want to tell a couple of stories. I hate to say it. I was not only a builder but I was a Marine. So I come from two very highly whatever you want to call it. But every year my Ironworker International would have a training out in San Diego, California and I was privileged enough to go out for training. Just a little gut check, I would go out to a little place over there called Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego and I would see what these young men and women protecting our country, and I would go there and I would just suck in the gut, get a little taller and I felt so good. Then one day, probably about four years ago, I went there for my regular, to go buy my Marine Corps memorabilia and everything. I went into the store, I bought four shirts, I brought a couple back. I looked at the label. And, I’ll tell you, it saddened me because that shirt was not only made in America at one time by a company called Fruit of the Loom, but now was being made in Vietnam and was being sold in that Marine Corps recruit depot. And I have not ever worn another shirt with a Marine Corps emblem on ever since then. If we can not buy American, fix America first, there’s something wrong. Thank you very much for having me here.
Senator Hillary Clinton: Thank you. Thank you so much Gary both for your leadership and your passion about what you do because you’re absolutely right. We have to create a new ethic of patriotism. We’ve got to start being focused on making sure that our country, which has given so many blessings to many of us, continues to be able to do so for years and years and years to come. Unfortunately we have a lot of CEOs of major corporations today in America who seem to have forgotten how fortunate they are that they have been given the gift of American citizenship and support for them and their families. So we’re going to call on them too to be part of the solution and to work, as you pointed out, hand in hand to try to get back those jobs and do it in a way that we can be very excited about what it’s going to mean for our kids and grandkids going forward. So thank you so much.
Now we’re going to turn to Lieutenant Governor David Patterson from New York. David is a great friend of mine. He is an extraordinary public servant and leader. He has been working very hard on a lot of the same issues that affect Ohio in upstate New York. I often say that upstate New York has a lot of similarity to Ohio; our cities, our small towns, our countryside, our farmland. And I’ve been working very hard to create more jobs in upstate New York and David has as well, working with Governor Spitzer. David I’d like you to perhaps describe what you’re doing and maybe some of he positive changes and successes that you’re seeing.
Lieutenant Governor David Patterson: Senator, I was thinking of exactly what you’re saying when I was reading in the Columbus Dispatch this morning about a company that’s going to pay workers $16 an hour and create 100 jobs in Lancaster, Ohio in Fairfield County. And they are going to begin that immediately. And we find in New York this same issue as in Ohio. Ohio lost over one quarter of its manufacturing jobs, over 200,000 workers out of work since the year 2000. New York has lost 189,000 manufacturing jobs going back to the same time period. What Governor Spitzer is doing is the same thing– getting companies to come into the state, going around. You get well the same way you got sick, a little at a time, trying to build back the workforce in upstate New York which is a region struggling for survival. Its economy is such that almost 30% of our college graduates move out of New York to greater opportunities. But I think, Senator, what you have talked about– can I call you Madame President?
Senator Hillary Clinton: No, not yet, David. Not yet.
Lieutenant Governor David Patterson: I’m sorry, I’m just practicing. I just think that your ideas, just like what Governor Strickland is doing here in Ohio with the research and technology corridor on Route 115 in Columbus, trying to take our educational institutions like Ohio State and then use that to create new jobs. We do it in New York as well. We do it with medical and scientific research. The federal government has shut the door on medical and scientific research but also with green collar jobs. What you were talking about, that Germany is the world leader in solar power, they have no more sunlight than the United States. The greatest amount of wind power jobs in this country were created last year. They actually created as many jobs in the succeeding four years. I think Senator, President, whatever we can do to help you when you get to the White House is just the fact that the states are almost fighting among themselves and the jobs overseas. We need you to bring American jobs back to our shores and we need America to prosper in the way that can from the new technologies, what would be the new discoveries that can help us.
In our state, in 1820 we had 3% of the country’s population and we did about 3% of the country’s economic development. We built the Erie Lackawanna Railroad and we built the Erie Canal. In those 20 years, New York State went to doing almost half of the economic development in the country and 12% of the people lived there. The people moved where the jobs were. Now they are moving away and we are struggling more than other states. States like Ohio and New Jersey with Governor Corzine and all the other states have great ideas, we just need that extra help from Washington and we will succeed.
Senator Hillary Clinton: Thank you so much, David. I think the two examples David gave of the Erie Lackawanna Railroad and the Erie Canal are really important because you heard Governor Strickland talk about the bond that he is going to bring to you as voters. When the governor of New York, back in the beginning of the 19th century said that he wanted to build a canal from New York City to Buffalo, people thought he was crazy. In fact, his name was Clinton and they called it ‘Clinton’s Ditch’ and ‘Clinton’s Folly’ and all kinds of derogatory terms. But he was a visionary and he said we can’t just keep doing what we are doing, it’s not working. We have to make big investments to make big changes.
That’s what Abraham Lincoln did with the intercontinental railroad in the middle of the Civil War. It’s what he did when he said we’re going to have Land Grant colleges. We didn’t even know we were going to keep the union together but he was looking at the future. It is what Franklin Roosevelt did with his work program and what Dwight Eisenhower did with the interstate highway system and President Kennedy with the space program. You could look and see how at critical moments in our history, our leaders made bets on the future and it’s time for us to do that again and there are always naysayers and people who said, “Oh, we don’t want to do that.” Ask yourself, what’s the alternative? We can’t keep doing what we are doing; we’ve got to get really focused on how we’re going to have a competitive economy, creating new jobs. I know we can do that.
I turn now to someone representing one of our oldest continually operating companies in America located in upstate New York, Corning, Inc., a company that started our making glass and now makes a wide variety of products. It has always exported but has continually had to reinvent itself. If it had just stayed in the glass business, it wouldn’t be in business. So we have to do the same for our country. Christine Pambianchi is the Vice President of Human Resources at Corning. I’ve been working very closely with them over the last several years because they are the largest employer in a part of New York and obviously we want to make sure those jobs stay and grow more jobs. Christine is here today to offer some insight into how one American company is adjusting in the face of new economic challenges. Christine?
Christine Pambianchi: Thank you so much, Senator Clinton. I’m very happy to be here today to tell you about the great work that Senator Clinton has done in partnership with my company Corning Incorporated to create jobs in upstate New York and not just jobs, but green jobs. I think when you hear my story you will see that this is an example that supports the plans that she is laying out that could be done on a national scale were she to be elected president which obviously I am very hopeful for. We are a glass and ceramic research company, as Senator Clinton mentioned. We’ve been around for 150 years and we invent materials. One of the materials that we invented is a type of ceramic that can be made into a filter that will actually clean the emissions from diesel vehicles. In the United States today we have approximately 11 million heavy duty diesel trucks and school buses that are on the road and the government has passed requirements for cleaner emissions of those. However, if we don’t retrofit the 11 million vehicles in the existing fleet, we will not have a clean fleet until the year 2030.
As Senator Clinton got to know our country and some of our technologies, she also became aware of and championed causes around clean air and in particular, school buses. Our children ride around in school buses and are very exposed to these harmful carcinogens and Senator Clinton championed legislation in Washington with the EPA and put a program in place called the Clean School Bus USA Program. This program set aside monies that school districts could apply for to retrofit their school buses. This directly supported us being able to create 400 jobs in our diesel manufacturing facility in upstate New York. We have $800 million invested in inventing this business and building a manufacturing plant to manufacture it. These are really good manufacturing jobs in upstate New York and that business has continued to grow. In addition to the initial program with the EPA for school buses, Senator Clinton has supported retrofit programs for the heavy duty diesel manufacturers and two other bills in Congress and that has led to the continued growth of the retrofit business and the continued vibrancy of our business to provide these environmentally friendly products. That’s one, I think, very concrete example.
Another story I wanted to share with you today is we do invent things. Another thing that we invented that you may not all know is that we actually invented optical fiber and optical fiber is actually glass. We invented that product and we sell that product around the world. We have a large manufacturing operation in Wilmington, North Carolina. With recent growth we’ve been able to re-open our facility in Concord, North Carolina. But in the last few years we came under attack in the world market and in particular in China and local companies in China manufacturing fiber sought to have our product either barred from entry to the Chinese market or levied with significant tariffs, upwards in the neighborhood of 46%. That would’ve made it impossible for us to enter that market and sell our product there.
We obviously were defending ourselves against those potential harmful acts and we called on Senator Clinton who came to our aid. She didn’t just follow with words, she actually gave written correspondence with the Chinese government, met with them in person on our behalf and we actually prevailed and the Chinese government sided with us and found that our products should be allowed to enter those markets free from those very harmful tariffs. That again sustained our investment in our research center and our business that we have in optical fiber.
We have a large research center in upstate New York. We have 1,500 employees that work in both technician, as well as PhD scientist positions inventing products. If you look at the details of Senator Clinton’s stimulus package, she calls for continuing to invest in research and innovation and then translate that into manufacturing jobs that we can keep in the United States. Hopefully these stories are good examples of what she’s done for her current constituency base and I think she would be able to do for us on a national scale.
Finally, there is a lot of job about health care. You’ll hear from other people as well as the Senator on that subject, but it’s a topic that is very important to employers, as well. As we look to keep jobs in America and have America be competitive in the manufacturing environment, it’s very challenging as an employer to figure out how to combat double digit growth in your health care costs every year and then try to keep your manufacturing costs balanced so you can be the leader in your markets on a global scale. I think that Senator Clinton understands these issues from a citizen and an employer and the perspective of what I think is best for the country and I think that she is best equip to work with us on that issue.
Finally, I would just like to offer that I am actually a life-long New York resident. I was born in the Bronx, educated in upstate New York and now I work in New York and I would just like to say that as a citizen of New York I am so proud of what Senator Clinton has done for us as our senator and would just offer personal testimonial of what I think she could do for the country, so thank you.
Senator Hillary Clinton: Thank you Christine. It’s been really a great experience working with Corning because they are committed to their community and they are committed to our country. I haven’t had that experience with every company. I’ve had to have some pretty strong words with some CEOs who were going to move jobs out of New York even though the plan where those jobs were being performed was profitable. And the people working in the plant, some union, some non-union, they’d all gone the extra mile. They’d cut back on all of the ways they could to be more efficient. They changed work rules. Everybody felt like they were on the team together and productivity went up and profit went up. The company said we could make more money elsewhere. That, to me, is just so unfair. What we’ve got to do as we level the playing field is eliminate every single tax break that people still get for exporting jobs. Then we’ve got to start putting some tax breaks into supporting new jobs and give people the incentives to keep those jobs right here.
As you heard from Christine and from others, we keep coming back to health care costs and we do it for a reason. We cannot continue to pay what we pay for health care and remain a competitive economy with a strong and prosperous middle class. We just can’t. The average American family pays $12,000 a year for a family policy. Some pay out of their pocket, some it’s shared with the employer, some get more of a share than others. $12,000 a year. I feel very strongly about this issue, as you know, but I’d like to bring some additional perspectives to bear here.
One of the people that came today you will recognize her company because she is the CEO of Weight Watchers. Florine Mark is in the business of helping people lead healthier lives. But she’s also struggling to help companies provide health care to their employees. So Florine, would you give us your perspective as a CEO and as a health advocate, what do you think are the most important things we should do to fix our health care system?
Florine Mark: First of all let me say what an honor it is to be sitting here with you and everyone around this table and when I listen to the governors’ talk about their states, Michigan has been in a recession for a while. We’re the home of GM and Chrysler and Ford and when I hear that there are no more GM plants in your state Governor, it really pains all of us. And we are working very hard. We have a fabulous governor, Governor Jennifer Granholm who is working so hard and trying to bring in jobs and trying to work with the Big Three and if I could just do a little commercial, please buy American. Please buy American.
Health care. I want to take a different slant at it because I’m really coming from preventative medicine and what makes me so excited about Senator Clinton is that she really believes in preventative medicine and that’s the key to it all. That’s going to lower our health care costs. She has a plan which is so very, very, very important.
Do you know how many kids are failing school because they are fat? Do you know how many kids are not getting to school because they are fat? Do you know how many kids are dying, not just grownups but kids who are dying. I met a 14 year old the other day who was 100 lbs overweight with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, all of these terrible things and nobody seems to be doing anything about it because the kids are sitting in front of the computers. They are not really being motivated to get up. And the first ting that we cut out when we have to cut out our school systems is physical education. So education is extremely, extremely important.
I want to tell you that I’m the mother of five, the stepmother of two – that makes me a mother of seven and the grandmother of 24 gorgeous grandchildren. Several of them are in college, I have one that is a third year medical student and one that is just starting veterinary school and I am so privileged to be able to help these kids and help pay for their schooling. You have no idea how high it is. I think my medical student is $65,000 per year to go to medical school.
Just think of how many potential Einstein’s and Clintons and Jonas Salk’s and Edison’s that are out there that will never have an opportunity to go to school, to go to college. Therefore your plan on education excites me, makes me feel safe because when I think of President, excuse me, Senator Clinton, I think of the word safe because I know she is kind, good, smart, tough – she is brilliant, she is nurturing, she has a sympathetic part about her, an empathetic part about her – who will do for the country what she is going to do for my children and my grandchildren, hopefully my great grandchildren and my great-great grandchildren.
So education, preventative medicine, getting people to understand how to eat, how to be healthier; that’s very important. Education is very important and I’ll tell you one other thing. I will only feel safe if this woman becomes president of the United States of America. I feel that if God forbid, that phone, that red phone in the White House rings, I want her there to answer it.
Senator Hillary Clinton: We’re going to put a moratorium on compliments. I’m very grateful for those very kind remarks, but I really feel that what you’ve done in emphasizing prevention is key. We can save money if we actually prevent disease, there is a lot of evidence, increasing evidence that if people in health insurance plans are encouraged to quit smoking, to get more exercise, to eat right, to take their vitamins, have their exams, to do what is necessary to make sure they are healthy. We will actually save money as well as lives.
That’s what Florine tries to do every single day but we have to do it on a broader scale and we need everybody involved. Business, labor, government, everybody has got to be focused on this. So that we will be part of the bully pulpit because I remember when I was in grade school and junior high, we used to have these President’s Physical Fitness Awards. I don’t know if anybody remembers those? Remember that?
Once a year we’d be taken to the gym and we’d have to run and jump and do all sorts of things. I was never very good at it, but I was there. And even though I wasn’t very good at it I would get this certificate and it was signed by the president and I really thought President Kennedy was sitting in the White House signing each and every one of our certificates. I thought that was just the greatest thing and I still have them in some scrapbook somewhere. We need to be doing that again and one of the real examples of physical fitness, of course, is John Glenn. John Glenn has been extraordinary all of his life.
Senator John Glenn: You’ll note that I sent here next to Florine hoping that a little of this impact would rub off on me.
Senator Hillary Clinton: I’m just thrilled that we are talking about prevention because it is so important. I want to turn now to Marilou Martinez Stevens. She is from Texas. She is Chairman of the New America Alliance which is an organization of Latino business leaders who are devoted to the economic advancement of the Latino community and she does a lot of work developing small businesses and supporting small businesses. Small business is really under pressure when it comes to health care. So Marilou, can you tell us how health care issues are affected the small businesses that you work with in Texas?
Marilou Martinez Stevens: First, thank you very much for bringing small business to the table because I think a lot of people are leaving small business out of the discussion. As you know, small businesses employ more people than larger corporations and yet we are not often at the table of discussion. Small business are, as you also know, overburdened in a lot of areas and what we are looking for, what I was so excited to hear about, is that you are looking for ways to partner with small business on how to help them become less burdened and help them hire more people and grow. Because as most of us know that the economy functions really on the back of small business. If small business is growing healthy, the economy of the United States is healthy and growing.
One of the challenges, and I see a lot with small businesses as we are planning; health care is a huge, huge burden. Small businesses want to help and to create health services for their employees. We do. The issue is, and the reason is, because most of us work with the same people over and over either related or over many years so they are like family to us. It is heartbreaking when we see that certain people like our employees cannot get that care.
I’ll tell you a terrible story about one of my clients that had a young lady that was having trouble at work and my client came and said this employee is wonderful, she’s always been the backbone of my company. She’s being kind of back, pulling back. And I knew her very well and I asked her and she had a very sick child and she was telling me that her medication was going to cost $1,800, two treatments a week so that she could breath. She had some kind of pulmonary problem and I said oh my goodness, how can it get that expensive? And she said, “We missed one appointment, because it would’ve cost $600 but now I don’t know what I am going to do.”
Every time I think about it I get choked up because I’m a mom and I know most of you are parents and how do you deal with that? I mean, you can’t concentrate on work, you can’t do what you want to do because you’ve got this responsibility to your family and I’ve started now several years back working with small business to find different solutions on how to provide the needed health care for their area. Now, there are a lot of things in the tax code that does allow for some type of reimbursement with small businesses but nothing covers catastrophic problems. For instance, a major accident – just driving, you run that risk. Long term disease, something that you didn’t know was coming and those kinds of things you can’t afford to even help out. In my case, the employer was able to figure out, I can help you with that and she thought, I didn’t know you could do that. But when you’re talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars, even the most caring employer can’t help.
We are so excited that you are looking for ways to partner up and look outside of the realm of how – especially the idea you talked about with colleges. Graduates are coming out and they have large debts and how can we create incentives for them to start a type of business.
Most of you have heard of pre-paid legal. I’m thinking we need to look at pre-paid medical so that we can start with the less expensive. So if I have a cough, if my child has a cough I can do and I know that it’s not going to be hundreds of dollars and I can get his medication and I don’t have to wait until later on when it is pneumonia and you need more expensive equipment and more expensive medication that can’t be afforded. So we’re looking for ways to have real health care and not disease management, which is extremely expensive and small business can’t afford it. So I am really, really excited that you are inviting us to the table and looking for solutions like that so that the small business can continue to be the backbone of the United States.
Senator Hillary Clinton: You are absolutely right. Small business is the backbone and it has created the most jobs in America in the last twenty years and under my health care plan, small business would not be required to provide health care to employees but would be given benefits if they chose to help. The problem is if you are in a small business, insurance companies can really discriminate against you. I think it’s unconstitutional for insurance companies to discriminate. I think they should not be permitted to do that.
The best way to get the cost down is to get everybody in the system because if you are in a small business with ten, twenty people, it’s impossible if somebody gets sick. There is no way you can continue to afford that group insurance. If you are in a system with millions of people then you are going to be able to afford it, so that’s why we need for small business, also to be part of the universal health care system and we can make that happen with the right kind of tax credits and limits on payment and ending insurance company discrimination, which is one of the parts of my health care system because until we get control over insurance companies, we are not going to be able to get the costs down so they have to be part of the solution. Whether they are enthusiastic about that or not, it’s time that we had doctors and nurses and health care professionals and business and labor and leaders at all levels of government working together to make these changes that the insurance companies will have to go along with. That’s what we’re going to do if we have a chance to implement it.
Final topic is education and work force development. And Zanesville Mayor Butch Zwelling, the mayor of the Y-Bridge City, I know you are working hard to improve the skills and the training of workers here in your city and that you have had some success in bringing some new business even though you have lost some, it’s been something you’ve worked really hard on. Could you talk about some of what you’ve learned about education workforce development?
Mayor Butch Zwelling: Thank you so much and thank you for being in Zanesville, Ohio and bringing the outstanding people that you have brought, we appreciate and welcome all of you to Zanesville. We have felt the brunt of much of everything we have talked about here today. Incidentally, my friend Florine here set me straight. I said was the Senator saving the best for last? And she said, “No, alphabetical order.”
Anyway, we have lost some industry. As part of the housing crisis, we’ve lost all-American homes, 100 jobs in manufacturing. We have lost jobs from the Lear Corporation who relocated in Mexico. We have lost some jobs at the Longaberger Company. But we are not whining around about, we are doing something about it. We have an outstanding Port Authority and the County Commissioners and the City Hall work together although we’re not all the same politics, we are on the same page, though. We have an outstanding director of the Port Authority and we have brought in in the past year the Bilco Company from Connecticut, the Aamco Company from Belgium and Avon is presently building a $120 million distribution center right here in Zanesville.
I know we have a moratorium on compliments and I have a million I could give to you but I want to tell these people in Zanesville and our distinguished visitors that much of the credit for the businesses, the manufacturing that has come to Zanesville, Bilco, Aamco and Avon, was with the cooperation and help of Governor Ted Strickland and Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher.
One of the things that I think that you are going to be very sensitive about is community development and block grant finding. We have been cut, cut, cut under the Bush administration. We’ve lost 27% of that funding since 2002 and I spoke before a Congressional sub committee a couple of years ago when President Bush was threatening to cut the whole program out as a way to balance his budget. President Bush doesn’t understand that this is the tip of Appalachia, that there are people in this area that do not have water and sewers and he doesn’t have a clue about that. I know that you do and we are so excited about your coming to the White House to do something about that because that involves infrastructure; waterlines, sewer lines. That involves jobs. We have to have that kind of money in order to operate as a community.
We have a $52.6 million budget. Half of it goes to health care and payroll. There is no fat in our budget whatsoever. We are constantly doing something about it. We appreciate the help that we have in Columbus. We also have a great Congressman, Zack Space who helps us and is by our side fighting every battle with us. We have a great friend in Sherrod Brown and George Voinovich in the United States Senate and we’ve just got friends in the right places except one.
We look forward to having that friend, you, in the White House. Thank you for coming today.
Senator Hillary Clinton: Thank you, Mayor. Thank you. You will have a friend and a partner. That’s something that I look forward to and I also appreciate your mentioning the community development block grants. The way that the federal government under President Bush and the Republican Congress has cut a lot of the aid that came to communities has put extra burdens on your tax payers and that is something that we will definitely address because it’s very hard for you to manage a lot of the needs you have if you are just relying upon your own resources.
Finally, Laura Meeks who is the President of Jefferson Community College. She is also the Chair of the Ohio Appalachian Center for Higher Education. Some of you may not know that Appalachia goes up into New York, so I have worked with the Appalachian Regional Council, I’ve worked with my colleagues, the senators from the states that are considered in Appalachia. There is a tier of counties in southern New York that have very similar problems to what we are talking about here in Ohio. Laura, you see people every single day in Ohio who are eager to get jobs, who are entrepreneurial, they are inventive, they have great ideas, they are going to work really hard. So what’s the best way to make sure that these hardworking Ohioans have a chance? How do we best make them ready and train them so that we can have a real match between the jobs we can create and recruit and the workers right here in this area?
Laura Meeks: Thank you Senator Clinton. Speaking on behalf of 1,200 community colleges in the nation, you are a friend of community colleges. We know that. As a matter of fact, you get it. You opened your comments by saying about higher education; we need to make sure it is accessible and affordable for all.
The other day we had a snow day. It was one of those great things sometimes you get to have. I don’t know if you have snow days in Zanesville but we had one at Jefferson in Steubenville the other day. I was by myself working and I heard someone and I looked up and there was a young woman, a young girl and her grandfather was with her. I thought it was her father. He explained to me that this young woman lost her father about a month ago and he said, “This is my granddaughter, here is her application.”
This girl came in the snow to make sure that we had this application and her grandfather said, “I’m a retired steelworker, had a good living but my granddaughter needs to make sure she goes to college.” I took her application and I found her a CD catalogue and gave her a catalogue because that’s what she wanted and I promised her I would get it in the next day when everyone was there.
When I looked at her, she touched that catalog and it really became real to her. I look back on my life when I was twelve years old my father lost his business. He had a feed store, grinding feed for cattle and it burned. He became a truck driver and my mom washed dishes in a nursing home for twenty years. They made a good living but they taught me something important, and it’s a lesson that all of us in higher education in Ohio understand. It’s that you have to get an education to get a better job and everyday we know that. What makes it difficult for us is the high cost of tuition and in Ohio we do have a high cost. I am so honored to say that we have a governor, Governor Strickland, who froze tuition for the state of Ohio for two years and he did that at a great price.
When we talk about keeping the cost of tuition low, we need to make sure that we keep that low. You’re right on, you get it. The other thing I’d like to say is that, we have a lot of work ethic, we have people with strong work ethic; we have a will to work. We have a fiber of higher education that can train people to work, what we need are the jobs, and you know what? We have them. We have the opportunity where we live we have smoke stacks, steel industries. We also have energy companies. We have first energy and also cardinal. AEP and they’re cleaning; they’re using resource to put in clears.
Those are some very good jobs. Youngstown State University and Jefferson Community College have a partnership, we’ve has 2 classes with 20 graduates; graduates in power technology who will go out and make at least $21 starting wages. We have really good jobs in the energy industry in Ohio. Engineering jobs and we have some hope of getting as coal liquefaction company that might come near us. I just want to say keep doing it, keep appreciating your higher education system in the United States.
Thank you for understanding the power of a community college. We have the will and we want to go to bed every night waking up in the morning knowing that someone in the White House shares our vision and our dream. That everyday in higher education we’re trying to make the lives of people better for families in America by giving them a better chance for a better job. Thank you.
Senator Hillary Clinton: Oh great. That’s so great. I just have to emphasize what you said about community colleges; they are so important for our economy. I was at Columbus State Community College a few days ago talking about the programs they have in order to train people for these new clean energy jobs and we can do this. We absolutely can do this. And I know, Gary, you’ve been working in some of the apprenticeship programs, Helmets to Hard Hats, a program that I’ve supported. So this needs to be joint effort; business, labor, government, education. All of us have to be on the same team, the American team. If we start once again playing on the American team, nobody can beat us. That’s what I believe.
I really appreciate everyone coming out today, because we want this to be an ongoing conversation. There are lots of good ideas that people have and we’ve been working to come up with what will make a difference.
What might work in Ohio might not work in Texas, and so we’ve got to have a variety of approaches. The federal government needs to be a partner. Of course, that means we’ve got to listen and we’ve got to be available. It’s what I believe we do best if we actually roll up our sleeves and get to work together. I’ve put out this “Solutions for America” economic blueprint; you can pick up copies on the way out. It’s an abbreviated version, but it puts out some of the ideas that I believe could make a difference.
At the end of the day we have to decide what kinds of future we want. It doesn’t happen by accident. What Laura was saying, you just don’t stay at home and say I think I’ll dream my way to a higher education, you’ve got to put on your boots, you’ve got to walk through the snow, you’ve got to deliver the application, you’ve got to attend the classes, you’ve got to be qualified.
That’s true in life, and it’s true in a country. So it’s our chance now to seize the 21st century. I am absolutely convinced that our best days can be ahead for America. That all of the concerns we have, we can handle them. But we’re going to have to be serious about how we do it. There’s no doubt in my mind as I travel across Ohio that people in Ohio are ready. You have governor, a lieutenant governor, who I know are making a difference. We just need to stay with you. We can’t get discouraged, we can’t get into fads; try this and don’t do it. Building the Erie Canal took, David, how many years? About eight, twelve years? Change does take consistent, concerted effort.
But the real question for us is not whether change will happen; change is going to happen whether we want it or not. Change is a part of life. It’s whether progress will happen. Whether we’ll see the kind of progress here in Ohio and Texas and America that the people of our country deserve. So I’m very confident and optimistic about what we’re going to do together. And I’m very grateful that we would have this opportunity with so many distinguished Ohioans and visitors from around our country to talk about what we’re going to do to make Ohio as important and prosperous and successful to America’s future as it was, Governor, to America’s past. Thank you all very much.