Office of Intergovernmental Affairs Blog

  • States and Cities Taking Action on the Minimum Wage

    Since his first day in office, President Obama has put working families at the top of his agenda. In the State of the Union this year, he reinforced his commitment to helping working Americans lead productive and successful lives, from encouraging Congress to enact paid sick leave, to asking Republicans and Democrats alike to raise the minimum wage. Traveling across the country, the President knows that in too many households, moms and dads struggle to make ends meet for their families – even when they’re working full-time jobs.

    While waiting for action from Congress, the President has been leading by example. In February 2014, President Obama signed an Executive Order to raise the minimum wage for individuals working on new federal service contracts, because, as the President said, “if you cook our troops’ meals or wash their dishes, you shouldn’t have to live in poverty.”

    But, as many in state and local government know, it can take time for Washington to act. As a dad and former Mayor for two decades, I know that families can’t wait. Communities can’t wait.

    That’s why it’s great that states, cities, and counties are taking action, passing initiatives that will lead their communities into the 21st century.

    On Monday, Governor Gina Raimondo signed a bill that will raise the minimum wage for Rhode Islanders. Governor Raimondo’s signature continues a trend of local governments and communities helping those who work hard day-in and day-out to put food on their tables and a roof over their heads.

  • 10 Cities Making Real Progress Since the Launch of the 21st Century Policing Task Force

    “On the City Hall of Camden you got an inscription by Walt Whitman: “In a dream, I saw a city invincible.” In a dream I see a country invincible -- if we care enough to make the effort on behalf of every child in this country. Camden is showing that it can be done. I want America to show everybody around the world that it can be done.”

    -- President Obama, May 18, 2015

    Only three years ago, the murder rate in Camden, NJ, was five times that in neighboring Philadelphia, PA, and 18 times higher per capita than in New York City. Local leaders and engaged members of the community took action, increasing interaction with police officers and the community and utilizing new technology and data. In less than two years, the city was able to reduce the number of homicides almost in half.

    Today, the President of the United States visited Camden, NJ, to highlight some of the innovative actions the city has taken, and other cities can replicate, to create economic opportunity, help police do their jobs more safely, and reduce crime in the process.

  • Email from Jerry Abramson: "Today's Conversation with the President"

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the White House Blog. See the original post here.

    Yesterday morning, Jerry Abramson, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs here at the White House, sent the following message to the White House email list.

    Abramson says that the tensions that have recently erupted in communities such as Ferguson and Baltimore are not solely tied to policing, but are also linked to the lack of economic opportunity. He also details a number of the efforts that President Obama is taking to expand opportunity for more Americans.

    If you didn't get the email, sign up for updates here.

    From Ferguson and Staten Island to North Charleston and Baltimore, our nation has been moved -- to conversation and debate, protest and action -- by images of tragic encounters between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

    But as the President has made clear, these issues are not new, and every mayor (or former mayor, like me) can attest that what we are witnessing in cities across America is not only about policing.

    This is also about opportunity.

    Everyone should be empowered by the country they call home. Unfortunately, in America, too many young people are limited by the zip code into which they are born. The President doesn't treat this conversation as one to be had only every few months surrounding the latest tragedy captured on camera and replayed on the news.

    Tell us how these issues are playing out in your own community, and how you think we can continue expanding opportunity for more Americans.

    (And make sure to tune in to today at 11:30 a.m. ET as the President sits down for a special discussion at Georgetown University about poverty and opportunity.)

  • DOT Helping Cities Build a Step Up the Ladder of Opportunity

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the U.S. Department of Transportation's blog. See the original post here.

    Through transportation, we can help ensure that the rungs on the ladder of opportunity aren’t so far apart — and that the American dream is still within reach for those who are willing to work for it.

    I have seen the truth of this first-hand in my own family and as mayor of Charlotte, and I've been seeing it for the past two years as Secretary of Transportation.

    Now, we can't give everyone a new car, of course. But we can help communities build projects that create ladders of opportunity.

    Which means we can support them as they design and build projects in a way that connects people to job centers and to education, that revitalizes economically distressed neighborhoods, and that creates pathways to good jobs.

    Secretary Foxx launches LadderSTEP in Indianapolis. (Photo by Sean Northup, Indianapolis MPO)

    Secretary Foxx launches LadderSTEP in Indianapolis. (Photo by Sean Northup, Indianapolis MPO)

    To do this right, there are technical challenges for cities to work through. And that is where the U.S. Department of Transportation can help.

  • What They're Saying: Mayors Across the Country Endorse President Obama’s Trade Agenda

    Ed. note: This was updated on June 10, 2015.

    In the 2015 State of the Union address, President Obama laid out his plan for Middle Class Economics, which he dedicated to “the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, everyone plays by the same set of rules.

    As a centerpiece of that Middle Class Economics strategy, President Obama has proposed and fought for the most significant trade agenda in American history, and for good reason – because Made-in-America exports unlock economic opportunity for the American people.

    Made-in-America exports have been a key driver of our economic recovery, hitting record-breaking heights for the past 5 straight years.  And those American exports support 11.7 million jobs across the United States.

    Now, to build on those benefits and strengthen the American Middle Class, President Obama is championing groundbreaking trade agreements with the Asia-Pacific region and with Europe that will ensure we have premium access to vital markets across the world while raising labor and environmental standards in a way that level the playing field for our workers and our businesses and make us more competitive in the global economy.

    When it comes to the promise of the President’s trade agenda, no one sees the positive impacts of increased exports U.S. communities more clearly than its local leaders. That’s why American mayors from all over the United States are actively voicing their support for this element of Middle Class Economics.

    Whether it’s the dock worker in Maryland, the apple farmer in Oregon, or the tech entrepreneur in Dallas, mayors have a unique insight into the diverse benefits that exporting delivers to the American economy and how trade helps American families on the local level. Because of that, mayors from a host of cities have been highly engaged with the Obama Administration on this issue.

    Mayors from across our country are expressing support for the President’s trade agenda and the benefits they will bring to their communities all over the country. 

  • This Friday: Tech Meetup at the White House

    On Friday, April 17, the White House will host local leaders from all across our “Innovation Nation” at the first-ever White House Tech Meetup.

    Organizers from cities and rural communities are starting coding bootcamps, hosting startup weekends, running share spaces, holding maker events, and setting up hundreds of innovation-focused tech Meetups every day. They hail from all parts of the United States – from Alaska to Alabama, Connecticut to Kentucky, New Jersey to New Mexico, Ohio to Oregon, Tennessee to Texas, and Nebraska to New York.

    They are community organizers, local elected officials, artists, business and civic leaders, coders, designers, entrepreneurs, funders, and more. Each of these leaders is playing a part in building interconnected local talent ecosystems that enable more Americans to get involved in entrepreneurship, economic development, and community solutions – inclusive, fun, high-impact innovation of all kinds.

    We will gather for the White House Tech Meetup with a few goals in mind: to help each other thrive by sharing best practices and scale outreach and inclusion efforts, to find ways to help more of our neighbors join in (especially those who have been less well-represented in tech), and to engage young people. Through this event, we want to “upgrade” the ability to include all of us in technology and innovation.