Press Releases

Jan 28 2014


Senator applauds President's focus on income inequality and expanded Internet access for students

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Jay Rockefeller released the following statement:

“Creating a better life for our children—reducing income inequality and providing opportunities—is profoundly personal to me. It has, in many ways, been my life’s work and calling, something that stirred within me during my early days as a VISTA worker in southern West Virginia in the 1960s. My moral compass was truly set in that tiny coal community of Emmons, and it has guided my work ever since. Much of the President’s State of the Union address tonight focused on issues that are at the heart of my nearly 50-year career in public service, issues that are as important today as they were when I first came to West Virginia.  

“We know that the wealthiest one percent of Americans take home nearly 20 percent of our nation’s total household income—representing a kind of inequality that is truly staggering and does a tremendous disservice to our children and our families. Addressing this inequality is at the heart of the many strides that have been made over the years. The Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Child Tax Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit, Medicaid—all of these programs were created and strengthened by giving families a seat at the table they wouldn’t otherwise have. And I’m proud of the role I played in creating each of them.

“But addressing income inequality isn’t just about a safety net. It’s also about creating new opportunities. That’s why I am glad that the President agrees with me that it is imperative to expand high-speed broadband connections to our schools and libraries and give our children access to the transformative power of next-generation broadband and wireless technology.  Nearly 18 years ago, I created the E-Rate program with former Senator Olympia Snowe. E-Rate has opened up a world of opportunity to millions of schoolchildren by providing basic Internet connectivity in classrooms and libraries.  Last March, I called on the FCC to begin the process of updating and expanding the bipartisan E-Rate program to meet our 21st century capacity and educational needs.  The FCC has heeded that call, and I appreciate FCC Chairman Tom
Wheeler’s commitment to expanding the success of the E-Rate program.

“While the President’s call for additional support for broadband infrastructure in schools and libraries is welcome, any update by the FCC of E-Rate must provide the necessary long-term funding to secure a sustainable future for the program.  The update also must have the support of existing beneficiaries and others who have contributed to the decades-long success of E-Rate.  I will continue to work to make sure that the E-Rate
program helps to deliver the brightest future possible for generations to come.”