ISSUES & SOLUTIONS
In today’s America, it’s no secret that wages and benefits have failed to keep pace with the skyrocketing cost of living. The backbone of our economy is made up of hardworking middle-class and working families, and they deserve fair wages and dignity on the job. We need economic policy to give workers and their families a fair shot, because when they thrive, we all benefit.
That’s why implementing a wealth tax is crucial. The highest earners must pay their fair share so that we can build an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy few. As a state senator, Sandra has been laser-focused on improving the quality of life for Rhode Islanders. She’s a champion for legislation that directly increases wages while also bolstering social safety net programs.
Sandra’s record speaks for itself. She co-sponsored legislation that was signed into law in 2021, setting Rhode Island on a pathway to a $15/hour minimum wage. She’s also sponsored several pieces of legislation to increase wages in critical areas of employment, such as early childhood education, home health care workers, nursing home staff, janitors, and security guards.
But Sandra’s work doesn’t stop there. She’s centered her efforts on labor issues, including increasing paid family leave in Rhode Island.
Sandra is a staunch supporter of increasing the federal minimum wage to $15/hour and then linking it to inflation. And she’s committed to bringing successful state policies to the federal level.
Sandra is a bold leader who’s not afraid to fight for what’s right. She knows that when we invest in our workers, we invest in our future. Join her in the fight for fair wages and dignity on the job.
The devastating impacts of the climate crisis are not some far-off, abstract concept – they are happening right now, and they will only continue to worsen. This is especially true for Rhode Island, the Ocean State, where our extensive coastline and Bay-oriented tourism industry are under dire threat from the destabilizing effects of climate change.
But make no mistake: the climate crisis is not just an environmental issue. It is a matter of racial equity and economic justice on a global scale, as communities across the Global South are poised to suffer some of the most catastrophic, inhumane consequences of human-accelerated climate change in the years to come.
Despite the overwhelming evidence and urgent need for action, powerful interests and climate change deniers have shamefully blocked progress on this critical issue for decades – and we are already seeing the devastating effects of inaction. It is time for us to take bold and immediate action at all levels of government to address this crisis head-on. We cannot afford to wait any longer. The future of our planet and the wellbeing of our communities depend on our commitment to act decisively and boldly in the face of this existential threat. Time is running out for us to rise to the challenge and take action now, before it’s too late.
Sandra is a force to be reckoned with in the fight against climate change. Her unwavering dedication to creating a sustainable future for Rhode Island is truly inspiring. In 2021, she worked tirelessly alongside legislative partners in the State Senate to pass the Act On Climate – a groundbreaking piece of legislation aimed at combating the climate crisis while also preparing Rhode Island’s economy for adaptation and climate resiliency.
As a lead co-sponsor of the Environmental Justice Act, Sandra is committed to ensuring that the Department of Environmental Management creates a list of environmental justice areas and addresses the cumulative impacts of pollution on communities. She understands that environmental justice, and its intersection with racial and economic justice as well as public health, is a critical component of the fight against climate change. She has worked tirelessly to ensure that all Rhode Islanders have access to clean air and water, as well as a voice in matters that will affect their communities.
Sandra is also a lead co-sponsor of the Climate Literacy Act, which aims to equip Rhode Island students with the knowledge they need to care for the environment and confront the climate crisis, which will take a multigenerational effort. By investing in our future generations, Sandra is ensuring that Rhode Island remains at the forefront of the fight against climate change.
In addition, Sandra is a lead co-sponsor of the Green and Healthy Schools legislation, which builds upon previous efforts to invest in our public school infrastructure. By creating net-zero schools that are not only safe and equipped for 21st Century learning but also contribute to our climate goals, Sandra is paving the way for a more sustainable future.
Sandra knows that, though time is running out, the fight against climate change is far from over. We must hold ourselves accountable to hitting ambitious targets. This will require a profound evolution and transformation of our economy, with innovation and decisive action. Sandra is ready to lead the charge.
In the face of pushback from the legacy fossil fuel industry, Sandra remains ambitious, strategic, and collaborative. Together, we can create a sustainable future for ourselves and future generations. Let’s take bold action and make a difference.
For far too long, our healthcare system has been plagued by exorbitant costs and rampant injustice. It has catered only to those who can afford to pay, while leaving the rest of us behind. This status quo has been unsustainable for far too long; indeed, the system is broken, and so many Americans are suffering the consequences. The mission is clear: to provide you and every other American with the healthcare you need, when you need it, and at a price you can afford. We must not rest until we achieve this goal.
That’s why it’s absolutely crucial that we move toward a Medicare for All model while protecting the Affordable Care Act. We need a system that works for everyone, not just the privileged few. And we need leaders who are willing to fight for this vision.
Enter Sandra, a fierce advocate for disadvantaged children and families in all aspects of life. She has been at the forefront of the fight to expand access to Rhode Island’s Medicaid program for children. Her tireless efforts have ensured that young Rhode Islanders can access healthcare regardless of their immigration status, without fear of being discovered during the process of seeking care. Let’s be clear: children should never have to suffer because of their legal status or socioeconomic background. This is a matter of health equity, and it’s essential that low-income and undocumented children have the same access to healthcare as any other American.
But Sandra’s advocacy doesn’t stop there. She has also fought for better and more expansive mental health coverage, including for substance abuse disorders. And she successfully passed the Trauma Informed Schools Act, among other initiatives, to improve mental health support for children and all Rhode Islanders.
Among the myriad injustices in American health care, beyond inequality on economic grounds, are the inequities in care given to people of different ethnicities (related to racial bias in the medical field) and the mounting limitations on care that is primarily accessed by women and the LGBTQ+ population: namely, abortion and gender-affirming care (hormone therapy and affirming surgery). These forms of care are quality-of-life issues at minimum, and often lifesaving. In Congress, Sandra will fight to defend – and restore – access to such care for all Americans.
We need more leaders like Sandra: leaders who are bold, unapologetic, and unwavering in their commitment to healthcare for all. Because when everyone has the healthcare they need, our nation is stronger and safer. So let’s stand together and fight for a better future – a future where healthcare is a right, not a privilege.
The recent decision by the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade has created a crisis that demands immediate action. It is a critical moment in our history, and we must act now to protect reproductive rights and ensure access to abortion. Congress must enshrine protections for abortion into federal law to guarantee that every person has the right and access to the care they need.
As a mother who has faced fertility difficulties and challenging pregnancies, Sandra stands firmly in the fight to protect bodily autonomy and the freedom to make reproductive choices. She knows firsthand the importance of reproductive health care and the impact it has on people’s lives.
Sandra is a legislator with experience fighting for reproductive rights and winning. In 2019, she fought hard to pass the Reproductive Privacy Act (RPA) in Rhode Island, which codified into state law the right to safe, legal abortion. Passing the RPA was just the first step towards reproductive freedom and justice in Rhode Island. During this fight, Sandra faced personal challenges while receiving harassing and life-threatening messages. But this experience only strengthened her resolve to fight for reproductive rights and protect access. It remains one of her proudest moments as a legislator.
Now, Sandra is working to pass the Equality in Abortion Coverage Act, which addresses financial barriers to reproductive health care and abortion by enabling Medicaid coverage for abortion as a matter of racial and economic justice.
We cannot afford to wait any longer. It is time for Congress to take bold action and enshrine protections for abortion into federal law. We must stand together and fight. The time for action is now.
The LGBTQ+ community deserves a fierce advocate who will support their rights and freedom of self-expression – particularly as trans Americans face an alarming surge in discrimination, hatred, and violence. It is utterly unacceptable. We must prioritize equity, inclusion, and protection in every aspect of legislation, spanning from education and labor to criminal justice and housing. LGBTQ+ rights are not just a matter of human rights and civil rights; they are about justice and the creation of a more fair and inclusive society. As a legislator, Sandra recognizes her responsibility to amplify and empower the voices of the LGBTQ+ community.
Sandra wholeheartedly endorses the bills and policies that are before Congress that aim to safeguard the best interests and well-being of LGBTQ+ Americans. They include the Equality Act, the Customer Non-Discrimination Act, the Do No Harm Act, the End Racial and Religious Profiling Act, the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, the Fair and Equal Housing Act, the FAMILY Act, the GLOBE Act, the Global Respect Act, the Healthy Families Act, the International Human Rights Defense Act, the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act, the Jury Non-Discrimination Act/Jury ACCESS Act, the Justice for Victims of Hate Crimes Act, the PrEP Access and Coverage Act, the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act, the Safe Schools Improvement Act, the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act, the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act, as well as common sense gun safety legislation to keep all of our communities safe.
Sandra is determined to raise her children in a world that embraces and nurtures all individuals.
Sandra will not rest until justice prevails and a society that embraces equality and inclusivity is achieved.
Education is the great equalizer. Teachers provide every child with the tools and opportunities to reach their fullest potential. Public schools are the backbone of our communities, serving not just our children, but our entire society. It is imperative that the federal government provide adequate support to our public school districts to ensure that every student has access to high-quality education, and does not make investments in charter schools aimed at replacing our public schools.
As the first Latina chairperson of the RI Senate Education Committee, Sandra has worked tirelessly to bring an equity focus to education policy. This issue is deeply personal for her, having come to the United States at age 16 only speaking Spanish. She learned English in the Pawtucket public schools, which enabled her to earn her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, as well as participate in leadership programs at the Harvard Kennedy School. Sandra has lived the importance of education policy that equitably serves students and families from all types of backgrounds.
Access to high-quality public education is an equity issue because it opens up worlds of opportunity to all students, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds. In the Rhode Island Senate, Sandra has been a fierce advocate for access and resources for students at all levels. She has pushed for legislation emphasizing equity and quality in early childhood education, resources, infrastructure, and real-world skills in grade school, and easing the financial burden of access to higher education.
Sandra is proud of the advances made for our Rhode Island students. For our youngest learners, she has pushed for expanded child care eligibility, an accelerated pathway to public pre-K, and increased pay for early childhood educators. For grade school students, Sandra has supported the school construction effort across Rhode Island to ensure that all students have warm, safe, dry schools equipped for 21st century learning. She has led efforts to implement a financial literacy curriculum in all high schools and helped pass the Civic Literacy Act, which provides for high school students to demonstrate proficiency in civics education.
Sandra firmly believes that higher education should be within reach for all individuals who aspire to continue their academic pursuits. The burden of student loans should not be a hindrance to achieving one’s dreams. In the Rhode Island Senate, Sandra championed a bill that guarantees in-state tuition rates for Rhode Island students, regardless of their immigration status, at state colleges and universities. Additionally, she proudly co-sponsored the legislation that made the Rhode Island Promise free tuition program at the Community College of Rhode Island a permanent fixture. Sandra’s unwavering commitment to accessible and affordable education is a testament to her dedication to the betterment of society.
Education is not just a right, it is a necessity. When in Congress, Sandra will continue to fight for equitable access to high-quality education.
Our nation is in the midst of multiple interlocking crises, significantly worsened by easy access to firearms. The devastating effects of gun violence are felt every single day, as the number of mass shootings continues to rise. Lives are being needlessly lost, and yet Congress has failed to act. To make matters worse, some states are even loosening their gun laws, making it easier for dangerous individuals to access firearms and assault weapons.
This issue is personal to Sandra. She will never forget the fear and uncertainty she felt when her father was shot when she was just seven years old. And now, as innocent children are massacred in their schools and innocent people are gunned down in their own communities – still, nothing changes. It’s long past time for action.
We must pass a national assault weapons ban and limit high capacity magazines. These are simple solutions that could save countless lives. But we can, and should, do more.
During her time in the RI State Senate, Sandra was proud to be a part of passing some of the strongest gun safety laws in the nation. She voted for laws that took guns away from domestic abusers, cracked down on straw purchasing, banned high capacity magazines, and raised the age to 21 to purchase any firearm.
We owe it to our citizens to do everything in our power to protect them. We cannot sit idly by while innocent lives are lost to senseless gun violence. Sandra is committed to continuing this fight and making our country a safer place for all. It’s time for bold action to enact gun safety laws – and Sandra won’t stop until we see real change.
Our country is facing a severe housing crisis that demands immediate attention from our elected officials in Congress. The lack of affordable and accessible housing has left millions of Americans stranded with no place to call home, forcing them into homelessness or overcrowded living situations that jeopardize their health and wellbeing.
It’s time for our representatives to step up and take decisive action to address this crisis and provide permanent solutions to ensure everyone has a roof over their head. Sandra supports ambitious plans and initiatives such as increasing funding for affordable housing programs, expanding transit-oriented development, providing rent subsidies, offering tax incentives for developers who build low-income housing, implementing zoning reforms, and protecting the rights of renters. Access to safe, stable, and decent homes isn’t a luxury; it’s a fundamental human right that must be upheld by our policymakers. Sandra is working hard with her colleagues to address this in Rhode Island and will bring that fight to Congress!
America is a nation built on the bedrock of upholding the fundamental rights of every individual: Constitutionally protected freedom, justice, and fair treatment to all, regardless of origin or background. The millions of immigrants who have made America their home have contributed immensely to the country’s growth and prosperity. They work hard, play by the rules, and make our economy stronger, benefiting us all.
As an immigrant from Colombia and a naturalized American citizen, this issue is close to Sandra’s heart. She knows firsthand the struggles that immigrants face in this country, and the challenges of navigating the immigration system. If elected, Sandra would be the first Colombian immigrant to serve in the United States Congress. Sandra is committed to fighting for immigration reform that is equitable and just, so that others can find safety, comfort, hope, and opportunity in this great nation.
Sandra has been a vocal advocate for comprehensive immigration reform and a viable path to citizenship for undocumented residents. As a former undocumented immigrant herself, she understands the importance of the DREAM Act and has been a strong supporter of in-state tuition for Rhode Island students, regardless of their immigration status. Her efforts resulted in the signing of a bill into law in 2021, ensuring that all Rhode Island students have access to higher education.
Sandra was a lead co-sponsor on successful legislation granting access to driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants in Rhode Island. She recognizes the importance of protecting the rights of farmworkers and creating a path to citizenship for those who are undocumented. That’s why she’s committed to enacting legislation to modernize the H-2A visa program and create a path to legal status and citizenship for undocumented farmworkers.
Sandra’s dedication to immigration reform is unwavering, and her commitment to creating a fair and just system is inspiring. She is a true leader who will fight tirelessly for the rights of all Americans, regardless of their background.
Community development is a crucial element for the growth of small businesses. Congress must prioritize this vision to ensure sustained economic growth in our communities. Sandra understands that the success of small businesses is integral to the economic success of our communities. It is vital that we invest in microenterprises to create a thriving economy. This includes providing businesses with access to affordable financing, encouraging entrepreneurial thinking among young people, and incentivizing local job creation.
Sandra has worked with the small business community in her professional life to help them thrive, focusing especially on support for woman- and minority-owned businesses. She understands the need for good policies aimed at strengthening small business sectors across the country. Congress must work to level the playing field for small businesses to ensure they have an equal – or better – chance at securing government contracts when competing against larger corporations. These contracts provide a pathway for small and minority-owned businesses to access the significant opportunities available within the public sector, ensuring that they remain competitive and viable. Sandra has fought tirelessly for Rhode Island to increase the percentage of government contracts awarded to woman- and minority-owned businesses.
Building strong relationships between successful entrepreneurs and local business incubators is one way to guarantee that community members receive education, mentorship, networking opportunities, and the guidance necessary for starting new companies. Sandra knows how to do this because she spent her professional career at a credit union helping develop community-based partnerships and financial education campaigns for low-income and diverse populations in Rhode Island.
It’s time for Congress to step up and make community development a priority by focusing on funding and policy initiatives designed explicitly for small businesses looking to reach their full potential. Sandra has a demonstrated commitment to working together with communities to create a thriving economy that benefits everyone.
At every level of government, it is our duty to protect and support our seniors in every aspect of their lives – from ensuring the stability of Social Security and Medicare to guaranteeing their ability to afford utilities and age in place in their own homes. Additionally, we must ensure that our seniors have access to quality public transportation options and high-speed internet, so they are not left behind by technological advancements.
In the State Senate, Sandra has been the lead sponsor of a bill to alleviate the financial burden for low- and modest-income seniors and people with disabilities. She has also served on the Senate Elderly Abuse and Financial Exploitation Task Force to study the prevalence and impact of elder abuse and exploitation in our state.
As healthcare costs skyrocket to unimaginable heights at the hands of insurance and pharmaceutical price gouging while our population continues to age, it is imperative that we elect representatives who will champion the wellbeing of our senior citizens.
The exorbitant prices of prescription drugs have spiraled out of control, leaving our elderly population in a dire predicament. In some cases, these costs are so astronomical that they become unattainable, forcing seniors to make impossible choices between vital medication and basic living expenses. It is utterly unacceptable for anyone to fall into debt or, even worse, be deprived of essential medication due to financial constraints. Sandra knows this struggle firsthand. Her father was diagnosed with cancer and depends on medication that has a price tag of $10K per month. If not for the generosity of the Dana Farber Foundation, Sandra’s father would not likely be able to obtain this treatment. Something has to change.
Sandra is a proven fighter for affordable healthcare. Her unwavering support for bolstering programs such as Social Security and Medicare makes her the ideal champion for our seniors’ rights. Sandra deeply understands the challenges faced by older individuals in accessing quality care, which underscores her unwavering commitment to safeguarding their well-deserved benefits.