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State Sen. Mary Olson, DFL-Bemidji, thanks U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar, DFL-8th District, for speaking Saturday at her fundraiser featuring a walleye dinner at Northern Lights Casino near Walker. Olson is seeking a second term and is challenged by Bemidji Republican John Carlson. Pioneer Photo/Brad Swenson

Oberstar touts federal aid to create jobs

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WALKER -- Federal stimulus funding continues to work, says U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar, citing transportation, wastewater treatment plants and education.

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Nearly 35,540 lane miles of road have been improved under last year's $873 billion federal stimulus bill, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It provided 1.6 million construction jobs.

"Those onsite construction jobs are paying $609 million in federal taxes and avoiding $535 million in unemployment compensation checks because they're being paid to work and not being paid for not working," Oberstar said Saturday as keynote speaker for fundraiser for state Sen. Mary Olson, DFL-Bemidji.

The event, held at Northern Lights Casino, featured a walleye dinner. Oberstar spoke early, when only about 40 people were present, because he had to catch a plane flight out.

"In Minnesota, that's meant 11,000 construction jobs," said Oberstar, DFL-8th District, and chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Also, 535 lane miles were improved and 64 bridges replaced, restored or repaired.

"So we have people working, paying taxes, not getting unemployment checks (or) leaving permanent benefits behind, making our roadways safer and our bridges safer and our transit system is in better shape," said Oberstar.

Stimulus funding has also impede airports nationwide, he said. "They account for 29 million takeoffs and landings a year. That is an extraordinary achievement."

Funding was provided for 629 wastewater treatment projects. "Thousands only had septic systems or mound systems now have wastewater treatment projects," he said.

"And it didn't result in any local tax increases -- all paid 100 percent federal funds, permanent benefits, people working and America in better shape," said Oberstar. "And we're adding jobs every month."

In March, 290,000 jobs were added to the economy where a year ago, the U.S. lost 650,000 jobs, he said. "That is a turn-around."

By insisting that stimulus funds be used only for American products, an Oberstar provision, new opportunities are being created, he said. He told of wastewater plant officials complaining that a certain part isn't made in the U.S., but a Minneapolis plant converted requirement from air to wastewater, and now employs 125 additional workers on that product.

"We have a new technology in American because I insisted it be 'Buy America,'" Oberstar said. "We can bring jobs back, bring those industries that have gone off shore and bring them back home if we create the conditions and give them the opportunities."

That includes "green" jobs, he said. "Every wind tower requires 400 tons of steel."

Renewable energy can be a whole new industry in America, he said. "This is what we need to do in this country to bring back the industry base in America and bring back the jobs and create lasting jobs with lasting skills for our country."

Congress a week ago passed a public employment support bill that is sending billions to school districts to keep teachers in the classroom, he said.

"State budgets were in such bad shape that at the beginning if the school year, we'd have to lay off nearly 1 million teachers nationwide," he said. "That would mean children would be less served, larger class sizes, fewer teachers and more burdens for local government."

Passing the bill means for Minnesota $366 million and keeping 2,400 teachers. "We will be able to retain class sizes, children will be able to start school this August or September knowing that they'll have their teacher, the classroom will be there and they'll be able to continue their education regardless of this economic meltdown that we've been struggling with."

Housing remains to be stimulated, he said, citing it as a complex issue. "We have put in place for the future controls over the mortgage and lending sectors. Separated banking and investment banking ... and we will begin reclaiming back that sector to finance housing again and that important part of the American dream."

He predicts the Democrats will lose up to 15 seats in the Nov. 2 election, but said that is normal during the off-presidential election year for the party in charge. He said last year's heated town hall hearings over health care are now past.

'... the anger of last summer, well, that's gone," Oberstar said. "The tea party summer of last year is over and done with. When we passed the health insurance reform bill, calls were coming into my office 6 and 8 to 1 against the bill, and now it's 3 to 1 in favor of the legislation once we passed it."

Instead there is a civil war in the Republican Party, he said, between the Tea Party activists and moderate Republicans. "That's fine -- the best thing you can do when your enemy is cutting his throat, the best thing you can do is step back and don't let the blood splatter on you."

Oberstar predicted a Democratic win for governor and, that the Senate keep its 2 to 1 majority.

Oberstar said Olson "is on top of the issues, she knows the facts and the figures of the programs, she knows the national health care legislation."

Members of the DFL Senate Caucus "respect Mary Olson, they know that when she speaks, she speaks with authority and she reaches across the ideologies to bring people together ... to do good things for the greater good of the state of Minnesota," he said.

"You keep sending Mary back and she will continue to do the service for you that she is so capable of doing," he said. "The advantage is on our side, the economy is swinging back, thinks are on the uptick and we've got a great election year ahead of us."

Olson said that Oberstar held a meet and greet for House 4B DFL candidate Meg Bye in Walker and attended an event in Nevis.

Y bswenson@bemidjipioneer.com

WALKER -- Federal stimulus funding continues to work, says U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar, citing transportation, wastewater treatment plants and education.

Nearly 35,540 lane miles of road have been improved under last year's $873 billion federal stimulus bill, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It provided 1.6 million construction jobs.

"Those onsite construction jobs are paying $609 million in federal taxes and avoiding $535 million in unemployment compensation checks because they're being paid to work and not being paid for not working," Oberstar said Saturday as keynote speaker for fundraiser for state Sen. Mary Olson, DFL-Bemidji.

The event, held at Northern Lights Casino, featured a walleye dinner. Oberstar spoke early, when only about 40 people were present, because he had to catch a plane flight out.

"In Minnesota, that's meant 11,000 construction jobs," said Oberstar, DFL-8th District, and chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Also, 535 lane miles were improved and 64 bridges replaced, restored or repaired.

"So we have people working, paying taxes, not getting unemployment checks (or) leaving permanent benefits behind, making our roadways safer and our bridges safer and our transit system is in better shape," said Oberstar.

Stimulus funding has also impede airports nationwide, he said. "They account for 29 million takeoffs and landings a year. That is an extraordinary achievement."

Funding was provided for 629 wastewater treatment projects. "Thousands only had septic systems or mound systems now have wastewater treatment projects," he said.

"And it didn't result in any local tax increases -- all paid 100 percent federal funds, permanent benefits, people working and America in better shape," said Oberstar. "And we're adding jobs every month."

In March, 290,000 jobs were added to the economy where a year ago, the U.S. lost 650,000 jobs, he said. "That is a turn-around."

By insisting that stimulus funds be used only for American products, an Oberstar provision, new opportunities are being created, he said. He told of wastewater plant officials complaining that a certain part isn't made in the U.S., but a Minneapolis plant converted requirement from air to wastewater, and now employs 125 additional workers on that product.

"We have a new technology in American because I insisted it be 'Buy America,'" Oberstar said. "We can bring jobs back, bring those industries that have gone off shore and bring them back home if we create the conditions and give them the opportunities."

That includes "green" jobs, he said. "Every wind tower requires 400 tons of steel."

Renewable energy can be a whole new industry in America, he said. "This is what we need to do in this country to bring back the industry base in America and bring back the jobs and create lasting jobs with lasting skills for our country."

Congress a week ago passed a public employment support bill that is sending billions to school districts to keep teachers in the classroom, he said.

"State budgets were in such bad shape that at the beginning if the school year, we'd have to lay off nearly 1 million teachers nationwide," he said. "That would mean children would be less served, larger class sizes, fewer teachers and more burdens for local government."

Passing the bill means for Minnesota $366 million and keeping 2,400 teachers. "We will be able to retain class sizes, children will be able to start school this August or September knowing that they'll have their teacher, the classroom will be there and they'll be able to continue their education regardless of this economic meltdown that we've been struggling with."

Housing remains to be stimulated, he said, citing it as a complex issue. "We have put in place for the future controls over the mortgage and lending sectors. Separated banking and investment banking ... and we will begin reclaiming back that sector to finance housing again and that important part of the American dream."

He predicts the Democrats will lose up to 15 seats in the Nov. 2 election, but said that is normal during the off-presidential election year for the party in charge. He said last year's heated town hall hearings over health care are now past.

'... the anger of last summer, well, that's gone," Oberstar said. "The tea party summer of last year is over and done with. When we passed the health insurance reform bill, calls were coming into my office 6 and 8 to 1 against the bill, and now it's 3 to 1 in favor of the legislation once we passed it."

Instead there is a civil war in the Republican Party, he said, between the Tea Party activists and moderate Republicans. "That's fine -- the best thing you can do when your enemy is cutting his throat, the best thing you can do is step back and don't let the blood splatter on you."

Oberstar predicted a Democratic win for governor and, that the Senate keep its 2 to 1 majority.

Oberstar said Olson "is on top of the issues, she knows the facts and the figures of the programs, she knows the national health care legislation."

Members of the DFL Senate Caucus "respect Mary Olson, they know that when she speaks, she speaks with authority and she reaches across the ideologies to bring people together ... to do good things for the greater good of the state of Minnesota," he said.

"You keep sending Mary back and she will continue to do the service for you that she is so capable of doing," he said. "The advantage is on our side, the economy is swinging back, thinks are on the uptick and we've got a great election year ahead of us."

Olson said that Oberstar held a meet and greet for House 4B DFL candidate Meg Bye in Walker and attended an event in Nevis.

bswenson@bemidjipioneer.com

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