Larsen Calls For Job-Creating Investments for Northwest Washington

WASHINGTON—Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02, today called for investments in initiatives that support long-term economic growth and opportunity in testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Budget. Larsen highlighted the importance of transportation investments, helping businesses export their products overseas, and education in Northwest Washington. The full text of Larsen’s testimony follows:

Chairman Price, Ranking Member Van Hollen, and members of the Committee: Thank you for the chance to speak to you about investments in our economic future in Northwest Washington, where I am from, and across our nation.

At the beginning of each Congress I write a set of goals to guide my actions and those of my office. These goals are the focal point of everything I do and are a daily reminder of the issues that matter to my constituents.

My number one goal is to invest in the foundation of long-term economic growth that creates jobs and opportunity in the Pacific Northwest.

It is with this goal in mind that I ask your support for essential programs that promote growth and opportunity by improving our transportation infrastructure, helping our businesses sell their goods, not our jobs, overseas, and educating a new generation of smart and talented workers.

We cannot have a big league economy with little league infrastructure. Investing in our roads, bridges, highways and transit systems will put people to work, keep goods moving, and improve safety for all of us.

The collapse of the Interstate 5 Skagit River Bridge two years ago should compel Congress to act on these important investments. We need to maintain our infrastructure until it is old, and then we need to replace it.

As summer construction season approaches and states face uncertainty about whether they can depend on federal funding for their projects to repair and upgrade their roads, bridges and highways, I urge the committee to embrace a long-term funding solution for the Highway Trust Fund.

Just as my state’s economy depends on reliable and safe transportation networks, it also depends on access to international markets.

Foreign trade touches 40 percent of all jobs in Washington state. When we export our products around the world, we create jobs here at home.

I urge this committee to fund the State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) program, which helps small- and medium-sized businesses find new markets and overcome the hurdles to export.

This program enabled Warm Industrial Nonwovens in my district to attend international trade shows and get its products in front of major aerospace manufacturers, resulting in new sales for the company.

My state has produced a return on this investment of $135 to every $1. That kind of success begs repeating.

While the spending bill for FY2015 included $17.4 million for this program, the President’s Budget this year again excluded STEP.

I think this is an unfortunate oversight and urge this committee to include $25 million for the STEP program in the budget.

Creating jobs and opportunity also requires quality, accessible education, to cultivate a new generation of highly skilled workers. That is why I ask you to fully fund post-secondary education programs.

The Pell Grant program and the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act help today’s students get the skills they need to become tomorrow’s workers.

Pell Grants helped 12,863 students and families in my district last school year, and 806 students used Perkins Loans to gain skills in advanced manufacturing, engineering, and nursing. Many of these students could not otherwise afford college.

To succeed in higher education and the workforce, we need to make sure students also get a strong foundation from their K-12 schooling.

We have an extra responsibility to assist school districts in Northwest Washington and across the nation when federal activity limits their tax base.

For example, Oak Harbor in Northwest Washington serves our military community and relies on federal funding from Impact Aid from both the Department of Education and the Department of Defense to make up for lost tax revenue.

The way we prioritize our country’s budget is a powerful statement about our values as a nation. As you craft the budget for the coming year, I ask that you consider the vital role that transportation, trade and education play in my district and in communities across the country.

Thank you for your consideration.