As a parent, small business owner and local farmer, I know that the success of the Valley depends on our ability to create an environment where our kids can grow up here and stay for years to come. That’s why my top priority is creating jobs here at home, helping kids born and raised here to stay and begin successful lives where they can find work.
As your representative in Congress, I support policies that help create jobs here at home. I vote for legislation that will improve the quality of life for Central Valley residents, help businesses hire more employees, give our young people the opportunities to succeed, ensure ranchers and farmers like myself can continue feeding the nation, and provide us with long-term water solutions.
Business owners know that the last few years have been tough. Our economy continues to struggle and unemployment remains high. Overreaching environmental regulations and healthcare mandates pose an ongoing threat to small businesses as they try to comply with new requirements. The Stanislaus Business Alliance’s most recent survey of small business owners in the county found that environmental regulation and the Affordable Care Act were their top two concerns, with water not far behind.
To run my business, I need to be able to plan ahead. I need certainty to make the right decisions for my employees, accurately predict costs and revenues and generate a vision for the future. Environmental regulations, especially those that exacerbate our already devastating drought, make that planning nearly impossible.
In the Valley, water means jobs. The House passed legislation in February with my support to put every option on the table for discussion as we work to help California cope with the drought. We have since been involved in negotiating with the Senate. It is time for the Obama administration to get engaged by instituting regulatory policies, providing storage and instituting long-term solutions so badly needed.
As the Stanislaus Business Alliance found, the Affordable Care Act’s layers of bureaucracy, complicated mandates and new rules have added to uncertainty for Valley business owners. I’m committed to fighting to replace the law with a fiscally responsible healthcare plan with common sense initiatives to lower healthcare costs without reducing benefits or restricting choices. For a start, we should allow Americans to purchase insurance across state lines and implement tort reform to significantly lower costs without an additional dime of spending.
Lastly, ensuring all of our young people have access to quality, affordable education is essential to helping them find the best jobs available. I went to college with the help of the G.I. Bill and Pell Grants. These remain two great options for students pursuing higher education today, and I’m committed to protecting both. This Congress put the Pell Grant program back on stable footing after the President left it dangerously underfunded. We have also taken student loan interest rates off of the 6 month adjustments that Nancy Pelosi pushed forward. More affordable rates, now set by the market and not politicians, give predictability to students who are most in need of aid while saving them money. And as college is not the goal for every student, I have supported a series of bills in Congress that encourage vocational, technical and alternative education to open up alternative pathways to economic mobility.
The Valley needs jobs and educational opportunities. Business owners need water, we need freedom from burdensome regulation, and we need laws that enable us to plan for the future. That’s been my fight in Congress during my time in office, and with your support, I’ll keep up that fight in the years to come.
— Jeff Denham represents California’s 10th district, including Turlock, in the United States House of Representatives. He is a local farmer, Turlock resident, small businessman and veteran.