Tom Perriello: It’s the economy
Column by Tom Perriello
During last week’s congressional district work period, I spent time talking with business owners, workers, job seekers, and others about what we can do to turn our economy around. I cherish my time here because I never want to lose touch with the challenges and needs of the families who sent me to Washington to work for them. These conversations help supply me with many good ideas that I can take back to Washington.
Before leaving Washington for Memorial Day, I voted to extend unemployment benefits for workers who have been displaced through no fault of their own. They paid into the system for years and deserve its support now that they need it. Although these benefits can’t replace the good jobs they had, it is important to provide a safety net for our displaced workers while they get back on their feet.
As part of this bill, I voted to close the tax loopholes that had Americans subsidizing the exporting of jobs overseas. These are common-sense measures that make a big difference to the American worker. Our companies and workers can compete with any in the world as long as there is a level playing field.
One of my stops this week was at Solutia Performance Films, formerly CPFilms, in Martinsville. The company makes, among other products, window films that essentially add another pane of glass for a fraction of the cost of replacement windows. A few months ago, they told me their products should be included in the Home Star Energy Retrofit Act, a bill to provide tax credits for people to make their homes more energy efficient. I fought to get window films in the final bill, and last month the House passed the bill with window films included. Getting these films included is going to mean more business for the company and eventually could mean more jobs.
During my visit to Solutia, I learned that they are making products in Southside Virginia that get exported to Asia, a direction of commerce I’d like to hear more often. They are a strong company that is still growing, paying workers a good wage, and showing that manufacturing still has a future in our region.
I also joined representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Martinsville for an economic development announcement. Monogram Snacks received a $5.75 million loan from the Recovery Act, or stimulus bill, which will allow them to refinance their manufacturing facility and realize significant savings. The savings will free up money to invest in their facility, expand their operations, and create more jobs. This was great news for the area and a perfect example of why I supported the Recovery Act.
Finally, while home, I observed Memorial Day with veterans in our communities. I was humbled to help dedicate the new Prince Edward County War Memorial, and to join veterans groups in Keswick, Scottsville, and other communities to honor the bravery and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform. I also joined Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford on Sunday to honor the 29th Infantry Division and all those who stormed the beaches of Normandy 66 years ago. As your congressman, it is my highest duty to ensure our troops are given a clear path to victory, that they are adequately supplied in battle, and that they are well cared for as veterans. I will continue to keep our servicemen and women foremost in my thoughts, prayers, and actions as I serve you in Congress.