U.S. Senate candidate Katie McGinty unveils economic plan for women ahead of Pittsburgh visit Thursday | Pittsburgh City Paper

U.S. Senate candidate Katie McGinty unveils economic plan for women ahead of Pittsburgh visit Thursday

Former Pennsylvania environmental secretary Katie McGinty is the only woman running for Pennsylvania’s open U.S. Senate seat this year, and yesterday she played up that distinction.

McGinty released her “Economic Agenda for Women and Working Families” in a conference call with members of the media and other female politicians from around the country.

She cited the most recent national economic report that shows job numbers on the rise again and said that  “women are increasingly becoming the primary bread-winners, and we need to enable women to get those jobs.”

Her plan calls for supporting the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would grant more protections for women fighting pay discrimination, providing workers with paid family leave and sick days, making child care more affordable, increasing protections for women’s health, raising the minimum wage and supporting female-owned small businesses.

McGinty spoke about the pay gap that is facing women in the workplace and in the entrepreneurial realm. She said that women receive half as much as men in terms of capital for starting businesses and that women in Pennsylvania earn 21 percent less than men on average.

“Women of color, who are increasingly the head of the household, have it even worse and only make around 50 percent compared to men,” said McGinty.

(City Paper previously reported how this disparity for minority women is especially large in Pittsburgh in a December 2015 feature about gentrification.)

McGinty said it is crucial to specifically address women’s economic issues and raise the minimum wage, because in Pennsylvania, some “75 percent of minimum-wage earners are women.” She said that her plan makes her the first candidate in the race to introduce a plan that directly addresses the needs of women and families.

According to Allentown's Morning Call, McGinty's opponents took some issue with that claim. Spokespeople for former U.S. Congressman Joe Sestak and Braddock Mayor John Fetterman both pointed out each candidate's support for raising the minimum wage and other workplace protections similar to those laid out in McGinty’s plan.

Republican incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey has voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act in the past, but last year switched his vote to back different legislation that supported paid sick leave.

Nonetheless, McGinty’s plan has garnered her support from other powerful women in politics. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democratic U.S. Senator from New Hampshire, praised McGinty’s experience in the male-dominated world of politics and said McGinty has “continued to break glass ceilings.” (McGinty was Pennsylvania's first female secretary of Environmental Protection, an office that was created in 1995.)

Emily’s list, a political-action committee that supports pro-choice Democratic female nominees, also threw support toward McGinty’s campaign.

When asked whether having Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in the White House would help advance McGinty’s pro-women's economic agenda, McGinty side-stepped and said that having women in the U.S. Senate has already been instrumental in accomplishing goals.

“When the going gets tough, it is the women in the Senate who get things done,” said McGinty.

Shaheen agreed and said that during the 2013 government-shutdown crisis, it was the female Senators who “got together to create solutions to reopen government.”

If elected, McGinty would become Pennsylvania’s first female U.S. Senator.

For Pittsburghers interested in knowing more about McGinty, check out CP’s coverage here and here, and the Senate candidate will be in town tomorrow at the Women of Steel: Stepping Up Conference, at Wyndham Grand Hotel Downtown, starting at 9 a.m.