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Bakersfield Observed: Forget The "Billion Dollar Boondoggle" Called High-Speed Rail And Focus On Jobs, Small Businesses

Jan 13, 2012
In The News
By Kevin McCarthy
January 13, 2012

Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and Dewar's Candy Shop and Urner's here in Bakersfield are two great examples of that. This week, both businesses cut the ribbon for two new stores serving our community. Dewar's has been in business for over 100 years and Urner's for nearly a century. They are more than small businesses; they are a part of our community.

Ensuring small businesses like Dewar's and Urner's can continue to thrive is one of my top priorities in Washington, and was something I discussed this week at the Bakersfield Downtown Rotary and in a wide-ranging Q&A session with the Public Policy Institute of California. In addition to efforts to grow our economy and spur job creation, many of the questions surrounded energy development, California's water supply and high-speed rail. The solutions to many of these challenges are both short and long term.

Take energy development and job creation for example. My colleagues and I are fighting to improve our energy supply and strengthen energy security through approval of the Keystone XL pipeline – a real 'shovel ready' project that will also create tens of thousands of jobs. I've also been working closely with Governor Brown to ensure that permitting for Kern County's oil producers moves forward in a timely fashion. Over the long term, we need to make serious reforms in our tax code in order to give American businesses a level playing field that promotes the competition and innovation we need to grow our economy and create jobs.

Solutions to California's water supply are also short and long term. Right now, we can pump more water through the delta and focus on greater conservation, and in the long term we must look toward better conveyance and storage. The Kern County Water Agency is a leader in water banking, and that has helped our community stay afloat during the most recent drought and the limits on water due to environmental restrictions. The efforts our community has made are great – but we need a comprehensive solution to ensure the 37 million Californians currently relying on a water system built for 16 million people get the water they need.

When it comes to high-speed rail, there is really one, simple solution: let's put the brakes on. The project blueprint and our economy are completely different from what they were in 2008 when voters approved Proposition 1A. The financing is not there now and it won't be there anytime soon, not from the federal government and clearly not from the private sector. It's time we gave this project some adult supervision and put our foot down, and I'll continue fighting to ensure our taxpayer dollars are not thrown at a billion dollar boondoggle.