RAHALL WARNS AGAINST FEDERAL BUDGET CUTS THAT THREATEN REGION’S ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
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RAHALL WARNS AGAINST FEDERAL BUDGET CUTS THAT THREATEN REGION’S ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

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November 9, 2012 – (RealEstateRama) — At the opening ceremony to mark the completion of two major water extension projects in the Mingo County Public Service District, U.S. Rep. Nick J. Rahall (D-WV) Thursday underscored the value of infrastructure building and the role of federal investments in clean water to economically strengthen communities across the state and nation.

“In the next few weeks you will be hearing about the so-called fiscal cliff. Unfortunately, there are far too many shortsighted calls for cutting federal funds for bread and butter projects like our waterline extensions,” said Rahall, the top Democrat of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, who has championed federal funding for water and wastewater infrastructure projects in the State and throughout the Nation. “Agencies like USDA Rural Development and the Appalachian Regional Commission – the two Federal agencies funding this water extension project – are being targeted for budget cuts. Plans to expand the King Coal Highway or finish Mingo County’s airport hangar and terminal buildings are also under threat because of budget proposals that put the burden of cuts on infrastructure investments in regions like ours.”

Speaking to the efforts of local officials, Rahall commended the determination and resolve of the community to advance infrastructure building as investments that greatly improve the region’s position in a growing economy.

“I believe the golden key to creating jobs is exactly what you have been doing to unlock the County’s potential infrastructure development. At a time when we are trying to put people to work, and we have broken infrastructure, fixing it seems like a pretty darn obvious answer to both problems. Just think about what the taxpayer gets with all the returns we receive by investing in clean drinkable water. These projects are essential to good health, higher property values, lower fire insurance rates and lower unemployment and, in the end, a higher quality of life for neighborhoods and communities in general,” said Rahall.

In February 2010, Rahall announced the Mingo County Public Service District was awarded more than $4.3 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development for the Jennies Creek Waterline Extension Project, which will bring water and fire protection services to approximately 170 households along Jennies Creek and Breeden Creek located in the Harvey and Kermit Magisterial Districts of Mingo County. An additional 15 households will also be served within the Stonewall District of Wayne County.

In April 2010, Rahall announced USDA-RD would provide more than $1.3 million in funding, along with $1.25 million from the Appalachian Regional Commission, for the Marrowbone Creek Waterline Extension Project, which will bring water and fire protection services to approximately 98 households along Marrowbone Creek and several of its tributaries.

Rahall’s remarks as prepared for delivery are below:

Remarks U.S. Rep. Nick J. Rahall

Opening Ceremony Marrowbone and Jennies Creek Public Water Projects

United Baptist Church

Jennies Creek, W.Va.

Thursday, November 8, 2012; 6:00pm

Mingo County and Mother Nature don’t always see eye-to-eye, so we delayed this ceremony when Hurricane Sandy landed last week. But one thing is for sure, come heck or high water, there is no stopping progress once you have crossed the Mingo line.

I heard the state legislators who visited the County recently were impressed with the progress you are making. I even heard there was a little project envy over the success of your focus on infrastructure building. Those projects are not only good news for jobs, good news for business, and good news for Mingo County families, but showing them off ought to make a big difference when the County Commission visits the Legislature next spring to talk turkey about future plans.

You keep right on showcasing your projects. I try not to miss an opportunity to bring Federal officials from Washington down to see firsthand how you put Federal investments to work. It has a big impact that they long remember.

I believe the golden key to creating jobs is exactly what you have been doing to unlock the County’s potential infrastructure development – our roads, bridges, airports, rail and river support, and broadband deployment. I don’t have to tell you about all the good that can come from them.

We don’t have to tell the American Society of Civil Engineers either. Listen to this. It gave our Nation a grade of a D-minus when it last looked at our clean drinking water systems. It estimates that every day we treat water, and after all we spend on making that water drinkable, our water systems are in such bad condition that they leak SEVEN BILLION GALLONS of that clean water EACH DAY! Talk about money down the drain.

If you ask me – at a time we are trying to put people to work, and we have all that broken infrastructure – fixing it seems like a pretty darn obvious answer to both problems. Plus, just think about what else the taxpayer gets with all the returns we receive by investing in clean drinkable water. These projects are essential to good health, higher property values, lower fire insurance rates and lower unemployment and, in the end, a higher quality of life for neighborhoods and communities in general.

Now in the next few weeks you will be hearing about the so-called fiscal cliff and our budget problems unless Congress acts. Unfortunately, there are far too many shortsighted calls for cutting federal funds for bread and butter projects like our waterline extensions. Agencies like USDA Rural Development and the Appalachian Regional Commissioner (ARC), the two Federal agencies funding this water extension project, are on the chopping block. Plans to expand the King Coal Highway or finish the Airport’s hangar and terminal buildings are also under threat because of budget proposals that put the burden of cuts on infrastructure investments in regions like ours.

The budget last passed by the Republican majority in the House of Representatives would cut critical funding from West Virginia’s infrastructure and transportation system. Now, anyone who expects us to complete highway projects like King Coal, or to complete plans for water service and waste water service, expects what never was and never will be if these proposed budget cuts go into effect. I am going to be fighting these cuts, as I have been fighting them.

A word about marketing the County: Bobby and I were at Marshall University the other day to work getting a $700,000 grant to help assist small businesses and entrepreneurs and create jobs in manufacturing, agribusiness, and tourism that would benefit the region. It’s almost surely going to help drive business for the new airport and help take advantage of the renewed interest in the Hatfields’ and McCoys’ story.

This amount of dollars – by federal standards – is small, but those dollars are crucial to rural states like ours that deserve a level playing field to compete. To me, this is one of the most important reasons we have a federal government in the first place.

I like to look at it this way. Like the strongest chain, our nation’s economy, our very security is only as strong as its weakest link.

I said it at the Airport opening, and it’s worth repeating over and over. For the life of every family and the bottom line of every business this extension will improve, when we invest in Mingo Countians, we invest in America.

Investments like today’s are not only sound, they leverage the dickens out of other funding. Rural Development has invested $51 million in water and sewer and leveraged another $51 million from that. ARC, in just four years invested some $350 million to leverage $4.3 Billion additional public and private dollars.

That, as they say, just isn’t chickenfeed.

We can’t stop the progress we have made when we have more work to do. We have more water extensions to dig and wastewater lines to run.

In this world economy, now is not the time to give up on what we have worked so hard to build. With China and India investing in their countries’ infrastructures, we must maintain America’s competitive edge.

Nor should we leave unfinished the job of extending water service throughout the county. In fact, Rural Development has invested approximately $29 million in loans and grants for water and wastewater projects across Mingo County.

When we grow our economy with projects like Marrowbone and Jennies Creek, we create jobs, shrink the deficit and help balance the budget. And you can be sure, I darn well know what all that and clean water mean to the 300 plus families these projects will serve.

That’s the message we have to get through some thick-headed people in Washington.

Thank you.

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