VOICES: Pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill; Ohio working families need it

I’m the matriarch of my family — a mom of three, grandma of 14, and great-grandma of two.

My late husband and I did everything we could to make ends meet and keep a roof over the heads of our daughters. Although things were tight, we were getting by. Until the pandemic hit.

In 2019, my husband died of a heart attack — he had just turned 65 — and we had known each other for 48 years. After a full life of family and hard work, it breaks my heart that he never got a chance to retire and enjoy our golden years together.

These days, my heart is breaking for my daughters. All three of them lost their jobs during the pandemic, creating an unbelievable financial hardship. I’d do anything to help them, but I was forced to retire from my job as a nurse when I was 31, due to a heart condition I’ve had since I was a baby, and last year I had open heart surgery.

We need good jobs here in Ohio to get people back on their feet. Without steady income, we’ve been turning to the food pantry for groceries. I get some money in my widow’s pension, but that goes to utility bills that are through the roof lately. At times I don’t have enough money for gas to go to the doctor.

As tough as our situation is, I see so many other families struggling just as much as we are and I want to help all of them. That’s why I joined an organization called WorkMoney, which brings together Americans from across the political spectrum to demand our elected officials in Washington support everyday people trying to make ends meet.

As a fellow Republican, I’m calling on Sen. Portman to pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill. This bill will create good jobs that help hard-working families like mine get back to work.

There should be no political games and no hesitation between Republicans and Democrats to work together to pass these bills. Both parties need to come together and understand what regular people are going through.

For me personally, making utilities more affordable would make my life so much better. We also need affordable universal broadband — it seems like you need the internet to do everything these days, but my internet bill is through the roof.

I know as well as anyone that recovery from a difficult ordeal takes time, but a year and a half after this pandemic has wreaked havoc on the physical and economic health of our country, it’s time to create the good paying jobs Ohioans need to pay the bills. We’re not afraid of hard work here — we just want to be able to live a good life in return.

My message to Ohio’s senators and representatives is simple: pass the infrastructure legislation that workers and families need.

Cheryl Pratt lives in Oakwood. and is a member of the nonprofit advocacy group WorkMoney.

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