Gulf Power Economic Symposium
Sep 3, 2009 -
Distinguished guests and friends, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to speak to you this morning and give you a brief Congressional update. I apologize that I can’t be there in person, but I still haven’t finished reading the ONE THOUSAND AND EIGHTEN PAGE health care bill that Speaker Pelosi has put together.
In all seriousness, we’ve seen some major changes in this country over the last year. I was honored to be in attendance when we inaugurated Barack Obama as President of the United States on the steps of the Capitol earlier this year. It was truly a historic moment for our country.
Since January, however, the changes we’ve seen haven’t been for the better. The economic downturn has hit everyone, from the largest corporation down to the smallest mom and pop store. More and more people are unemployed and families are hurting. Unfortunately, the President and the majority in Congress have decided to go on a spending and tax spree to fight the recession, exactly what we don’t need.
Congress has passed a stimulus bill that has done nothing to help turn around our economy, the House has passed a cap and trade bill that I think will destroy American jobs and raise taxes on all Americans, and we are currently debating a health care reform package that will raise taxes and lead to higher health care costs. My question is when are we going to learn that tax and spend policies don’t work?
But turning from the Democrats’ legislative missteps, I’d like to share with you some of the things coming out of DC that WILL, in keeping with today’s theme, prepare to launch Northwest Florida into the future.
On the military front, the Air Force has been working to bed-down 59 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft at Eglin Air Force Base. The JSF will bring at least $160 million in direct military construction money to Eglin and along with the arrival of the 7th Special Forces Group, there will be over 10,000 new residents to the area.
On the local front, we’ve had success in securing funding for some needed transportation and community projects. We’ve been able to provide over $1 million to the University of West Florida for veterans’ education, job assistance, and health information technology initiatives. Walton County received funding to expand U.S. Highway 331 and the Choctawhatchee Bridge, Santa Rosa is slated for funding to provide a project design study for State Road 87 and Escambia County has been appropriated $500,000 to begin work on widening Highway 90.
This has been a great year for Northwest Florida despite the economic setbacks that we have faced. Northwest Florida’s unemployment rate is significantly lower than the rest of the state and the rest of the country. This is a testament to the power of our community to work together to improve the lives of everyone in our area.
Thank you again for allowing me to speak with you today, and I hope you enjoy the rest of the conference.