Rep. Rick Larsen's No. 1 priority for 2010: Jobs

MARYSVILLE — United States Rep. Rick Larsen said his No. 1 priority in 2010 is putting residents back to work.

With nearly one in 10 Washingtonians out of work, that includes continuing to work with local municipalities on stimulus projects and passing items that would support small businesses, Larsen said during an editorial panel Jan. 5.

“Until people are back to work, I know I can’t rest,” he said. “That’s what I think you should expect to see.”

Larsen met with the editorial staff of The Marysville Globe, The Arlington Times and The Bellingham Business Journal to discuss his congressional priorities this year, and touched on a number of other federal and local issues.

Larsen said federal programs, including the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, have been working to help put local residents back to work.

“I’ve visited 19 projects total, with some more later this week,” Larsen said. “I would challenge folks to visit those.”

Included on that list are two current projects in Arlington. The act has provided approximately $5.5 million in federal funds for a new water treatment facility and more than $200,000 to build new sidewalks on Gifford Avenue.

Those and other area projects throughout Snohomish County are helping, he said.

“Those are projects that are putting people to work,” Larsen said.

He said that he is supportive of a potential offshoot from the federal program known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which would give banks access to federal funds to encourage lending to small businesses.

The U.S. representative also spoke about his support of The Jobs for Main Street Act, which was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in December.

Larsen said money from the act, if approved by the Senate and signed off by the president, would help local school districts and city police departments from eliminating positions.

City and school district budgets in Arlington and Marysville were slashed in 2009, resulting in a number of staff reductions.

In addition to lost jobs, Larsen also talked about Boeing’s decision to move its second assembly site for the 787 Dreamliner program to North Charleston, S.C.

“I spend a lot of time door-belling, and it seems like everybody I come across is either somebody who works at Boeing or knows somebody that works at Boeing,” Larsen said. “I was obviously disappointed in their decision.”

He said he will, however, continue to support congressional efforts to bring a $36 billion U.S. Air Force contract to Boeing.

If the Everett-based company receives the contract, it would enable Boeing to build a U.S. Air Force tanker.

“I feel very comfortable that we here in the Northwest have the (workers) to build that next-generation tanker,” he said.

Other topics of discussion included health care and entitlement reforms, transportation issues and the war in Afghanistan.

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