Jobs/Transit, Hope on the Horizon?

With all the gridlock in DC, it seems impossible that anything fruitful or significant can really happen.  But a few dedicated public officials are starting to push two very promising proposals that could affect millions.

Last week Peter Rogoff, a Department of Transportation undersecretary, updated activists from 16 states on the Grow America Act

This act contains some of the best policy-making USDOT has put forward in years.  It would dramatically increase transit funding, it would allow local hire (a no-brainer if ever there was one), and it would increase funding for the ever-popular TIGER program. Rogoff told the crowd that President Obama and Secretary Foxx are determined to get Grow America passed. 

Another official who seems to be poised to make some interesting policy is Pat Shui, the head of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance (OFCCP) in the Department of Labor.  Actually, her office has been declaring that they are just about to take action on outdated minority and women inclusion standards for more than a year.  

While activists have been frustrated with the hold-up, they are comforting themselves with the fact that Secretary Perez  included the rule change in his strategic plan. Activists also got a shot in the arm this month from the 30 Congressional members of the Full Employment Caucus, who sent a strongly worded letter about the outdated regulations to the president.

Let's hope that Rogoff and Shui can follow their better angels and make the federal government more responsive to the needs of people of color, women and low-income folks.

(Photo: Peter Rogoff briefing activists at Gallaudet University; photo courtesy Laura Barrett.)

Laura Barrett is the executive director Interfaith Worker Justice.


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