On Wednesday, February 15 the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources held its first subcommittee hearing under their new leadership of Congressmen Adrian Smith (R-NE). The hearing titled, The Changing Geography of US Poverty focused on rural poverty. Several members are new to the subcommittee and much of their focus was on their various congressional districts and the dynamics of rural poverty.
All the speakers: Elizabeth Kneebone, Fellow, Metropolitan Policy Program, Brookings Institution, Testimony, Mark Partridge, Professor, Swank Chair in Rural-Urban Policy, Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics, Ohio State University, Testimony, William Leavy, Executive Director, Greater West Town Project, Chicago, Testimony, and Tammy Slater, CEO, Goodwill Industries of Greater Nebraska, Testimony offered a central theme that was repeated both in the testimony and the questioning by members of congress. Those themes included a lack of resources, support and services. Several of the speakers and committee members talked about the high levels of poverty in their own cities and communities and most pointed to a lack of jobs, workforce development and access to the coordinated services that people need to climb the economic ladder. Some members on the Subcommittee focused in on some of their favorite themes including trade and closing factories and the need for business incentives.