Latinos and the 2014 Elections

Five Reasons to Vote in November

All elections matter. This November, Americans will choose governors in 36 states, elect the entire House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate, select a great majority of their state legislators, and decide who will represent them in hundreds of local elections.

The decisions these officials make will impact the lives of Latinos across the country on issues ranging from the quality of children's education to the ability of families to access health care, obtain quality jobs, own their own homes, and pursue the American Dream.

Here are five reasons Latinos should vote in November.

1. Millions of Latinos still lack health insurance.
Health care reform created a historic opportunity to extend health coverage to millions of Latinos, but fully realizing the potential of the Affordable Care Act will require greater action from state officials. Helping more Latinos obtain health insurance will depend on electing state leaders committed to the health of the Hispanic community.

2. Latino workers need a raise.
Forty-three percent of Latino workers earn poverty-level wages. The current minimum wage of $7.25 per hour is not enough to keep a single parent with one child out of poverty. Congress has introduced-but has not yet passed-legislation to raise the minimum wage to $10.10, which would make it easier for approximately 6.8 million Latinos, nearly one-quarter of the Hispanic workforce, to take care of their families. Dozens of states are also considering increasing their own minimum wages.

3. Hardworking Hispanic families deserve a chance to own their own homes.
While 65% of all Americans are homeowners, fewer than 46% of Hispanics own their own homes. Members of Congress have been debating changes to housing finance laws that could make it easier (or more difficult) for Latinos to get mortgages.

4. Latino students deserve better schools.
Hispanic students are more likely than others to attend schools with fewer resources, less experienced teachers, and lower academic standards. Dozens of states have adopted policies requiring that all students be taught to the same rigorous standards and that schools are held accountable for ensuring students' success. These policies, known as the Common Core State Standards, are heavily criticized by conservative and liberal groups alike.

The Common Core represents a unique opportunity to ensure that Latino children are ready for college, careers, and life. Elected school board members and state officials will decide whether the new standards are upheld in many areas of the country; they hold the future of our children in their hands.

5. Inaction on immigration reform is devastating Latino communities.
Congressional inaction on reform, combined with record-setting deportations, has torn apart millions of families and devastated the social fabric of American communities. Strong Latino participation in 2014 elections is needed to ensure that Congress finishes the job of enacting comprehensive immigration reform, or that the president takes executive action to provide relief to our communities.

To change our community and the country for the better, vote this November.
Janet Murguía

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