Editor’s note: This piece is in response to President Barack Obama’s Tuesday State of the Union address.
COMMENTARY: President Obama articulated the strength and spirit of the American people, and that diligence and optimism can break down barriers to create the future that all of our children deserve.
Pragmatic solutions such as closing the gender wage gap, raising the minimum wage, investing in our renewable energy sector, and improving education so that our children are prepared to compete in a 21st century global economy are paramount to achieving that goal. In New Mexico, we know that a strong economy begins with a thriving middle class, which is why I will continue to fight for policies that ensure the economic recovery is felt by everyone.
I’m pleased the president made education and college affordability a centerpiece in his address. There’s no question that in order to continue to grow our economy, we must have a well-educated and well-trained workforce. That begins with early childhood education. And every student, no matter where they come from, who strives for a college degree deserves a fair shot at affording it without being crushed by debt.
I’m also encouraged that the president reiterated our nation’s responsibility to continue combating climate change. In New Mexico, we’ve experienced the effects of extreme weather conditions firsthand through severe drought, larger wildfires, and increased flooding. We have a moral obligation to be responsible stewards of this earth so that our children and future generations inherit a healthy planet.
Tonight’s address also focused on eliminating ISIL and protecting our homeland, and highlighted the need to fix our broken immigration system. And I agree with the president that we must act now to reduce gun violence — an issue both Democrats and Republicans can tackle together without punishing law-abiding gun owners.
While our nation’s overall economy and outlook have improved over the last seven years, my priority is to build on that momentum so that New Mexicans working hard to get ahead feel those gains. The challenges that lie ahead will require pragmatism, ingenuity, and commitment to creating a brighter future for the next generation. I am hopeful that both parties can come together and set aside their political differences to find the sensible and commonsense solutions that the American people deserve and expect.
Heinrich, a Democrat, represents New Mexico in the U.S. Senate.