Washington, D.C. - On the eve before President Obama's State of the Union address, National League of Cities (NLC) President Chris Coleman, mayor, Saint Paul, Minn. published an op-ed in The Hill discussing inequality in America's cities and the innovative city solutions that are building pathways to opportunity. In tonight's State of the Union, the president is expected to discuss how inequality restricts mobility and deprives people of the American Dream. In his op-ed "To Fix Inequality, Think Local", Coleman calls on President Obama to acknowledge that "there is no silver bullet [to solve inequality]; the war on inequality must ultimately be informed and driven by local realties...the time to address inequality is now. Let's not delay any longer."
Coleman speaks about declining social mobility in today's society, the persistence of poverty in American cities and the lack of resources available to underserved and underrepresented residents. In addressing these issues, Coleman said:
"Our nation's city leaders understand that providing a fair chance at the American dream means addressing inequality comprehensively. It means ensuring all students are reading proficiently by the end of third grade, graduating from high school and pursuing post-secondary education or training. It means making deliberative outreach efforts to engage underrepresented residents in decisions that will impact their lives. It means building an infrastructure of supportive services that address the social and emotional needs of children and families."
Coleman argues that, "too many people in Washington are neglecting to address the tangible barriers to economic prosperity in favor of ideological matches that fail to produce the solutions we need." Instead, what cities need most is a federal government to be a partner in doing the common sense things that can change people's lives.
"This means passing the strongest, most comprehensive immigration bill possible that provides resources for cities to integrate immigrant families into their communities. It means promoting an environment where small business can grow and thrive by putting Main Street retailers on equal footing with their online counterparts. It means continuing to support local infrastructure projects by passing a new surface transportation program that gives local governments a greater role in transportation decision-making. And most importantly, it means promoting local government's role in building an education system that prepares students to be the most innovative workforce in the world."
The complete op-ed is available on The Hill's Congress blog.
The National League of Cities (NLC) is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans.