Opinion

Action needed now for economic recovery and job growth by Rep. Rick Larsen

Now is the time to move from financial rescue to economic recovery and long-term job growth. That’s why I have been working in Congress to pass an economic recovery package to create jobs here in Snohomish County, modernize local schools, highways and transit and help families who are struggling.

In the last few months, I have held a number of meetings with Snohomish County constituents and local leaders about the need for immediate action to stimulate our economy and help those hit hard by the recession. I visited the Marysville Food Bank and the Volunteers of America Food Distribution Center in Everett where I heard that the recession is making it much more difficult for local families and seniors to put food on the table. I held a roundtable meeting with Senator Patty Murray and two hundred of our constituents including leaders from Arlington and Marysville to discuss the impact of the recession on Snohomish County and how economic recovery legislation could help.

With input from these meetings, I am working to ensure that Congress passes an economic recovery package that makes the right investments to create jobs in Snohomish County, lays the groundwork for long-term economic recovery and helps those hurt the most.

As Congress works with President Obama on this critical legislation, I have shared some of my constituents’ ideas and concerns with congressional leadership and urged them to include steps that will help us here in the 2nd District. I have urged congressional leadership to take the following steps for economic recovery in Northwest Washington:

1. Local input on funding for roads, highways and bridges. The stakeholders who best understand local transportation needs should have a say in how federal funds for infrastructure are spent. Local planning organizations should receive some economic recovery funds directly.

2. Immediate job creation and long-term growth: I have heard from constituents in Snohomish County that we can make the greatest economic impact by investing in both immediate job creation and long-term job growth. Economic recovery legislation should fund both ready-to-go infrastructure projects and projects that can begin next year.

3. Funding for ferries: Washington State Ferries are an important part of our highway system, carrying over 25 million riders each year. Washington State Ferries has terminal construction projects are ready to go and would create local jobs.

4. Help for families hurt the most: Many families in my district are struggling to put food on the table and more are relying on food stamps and food banks for help. But the buying power of food stamps has failed to keep up with the rising cost of food and local food banks are having a hard time keeping their shelves stocked to meet demand. A wide range of economists agree that a temporary increase in food stamps will provide a quick and real stimulus to the economy.

This week, congressional leadership released draft economic recovery legislation called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This legislation will put people to work modernizing our roads, bridges and transit and investing in clean, efficient energy. It will invest in school modernization and repair to help more children learn in 21st century classrooms. It will provide tax cuts for working Americans and help for Americans hurt the most, including our neighbors struggling to put food on the table. Finally, I am pleased that this draft legislation allows local input on how transportation dollars are spent by giving some resources directly to local planning organizations, and that it provides for both immediate job creation and longer-term job growth.

I agree with President Obama’s commitment that economic recovery legislation will not earmark funding at the federal level for specific local projects. And I applaud his commitment to be fully transparent and accountable to the American people by creating a website so the public to see how their economic recovery dollars are being spent.

We need action now to create jobs in Snohomish County and put us on the road to economic recovery. I welcome your input as Congress considers these important issues, and I encourage you to share your comments at www.house.gov/larsen.

U.S. Representative Rick Larsen represents Washington’s 2nd congressional district in the U.S. Congress. He is a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the House Hunger Caucus.

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