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Guest Editorial: Winners for San Diego in the omnibus spending bill

Posted: April 20th, 2018 | Guest Editorial, Opinion, Opinion & News | No Comments

By Rep. Susan A. Davis | Guest Editorial

The success of our nation’s economy is based in part on the investments the federal government makes. These investments spur economic activity and create jobs.

They can help young people afford college, save lives, protect and provide the care our veterans deserve, or keep our nation safe.

Rep. Susan A. Davis

Congress recently passed an omnibus spending bill that provides meaningful investments in America and the American people.

While it was great to see this bipartisan agreement come together, it followed a shutdown and six short-term funding bills that left federal agencies in limbo on implementing policy.

As your representative, I want to report to you how this will benefit San Diego.

Each year, I push for an increase in funding for life-saving medical research. Last April, I led 206 of my fellow colleagues in calling for an increase in resources for the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

San Diego is a significant recipient of NIH funding to the tune of about $800 million per year. In our region, there are thousands of scientists in laboratories making incredible discoveries and breakthroughs for medical science, which can improve or save a life immeasurably.

This NIH funding supports these jobs and is a benefit to our local economy. This is why, along with saving lives, I continue to fight for this critical investment. This year the NIH will see a $3 billion boost.

Another top job generator for our region is the strong tradition of shipbuilding. As a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, I work to ensure that shipbuilding gets the attention it deserves in the annual defense authorization bill.

The bipartisan work we do on the Armed Services Committee filters over to the appropriations committee in funding for shipbuilding and repair. More than $25 billion for shipbuilding was included for 2018.

To fulfill new contracts, local shipbuilders recently announced they will be hiring up to 1,000 shipbuilders for good-paying jobs.

For those of us who drive on our roads, we know all too well the need for repairs. San Diego faces an infrastructure shortfall of about $300 million dollars, according to a recent report covered by San Diego Union Tribune. Additionally, a study by transportation research group TRIP rated San Diego’s roads as some of the worst in the country.

The omnibus bill provides $45 billion for roads and bridges, which will help close our region’s funding gap and lead to vital improvements.

As San Diego faces a housing and homelessness crisis, I recently joined over 1,500 volunteers to help count and survey our region’s homeless population. The stories of the men and women living on our streets are heartbreaking.

Programs to end homelessness have a proven record of success and many of these housing programs will receive a sizable increase.

On whole, the Department of Housing and Urban Development will see a 10 percent increase. The largest share will go toward public housing programs.

Another $8 million will go toward the Runaway and Homeless Youth Program. San Diego’s YMCA Turning Point Program will benefit as they work to get our children off the streets and into housing.

One of the more important investments we can make is in our children through education. Schools with high percentages of low-income students will see an increase in support from the federal government.

As Ranking Member of the Higher Education Subcommittee, I was pleased to see a greater investment in Pell grants. I believe we can do better. While this increase is $175 per grant, I am sponsoring legislation to index Pell grants to inflation in order to keep up with rising costs.

We have a proud veteran community in San Diego. With this bill, we honor our commitment to our veterans with a nearly 10 percent boost for the Veterans Affairs (VA), including mental health care, suicide prevention and ending homelessness.

As Congress begins the process for funding the federal government for Fiscal Year 2019, I hope we don’t have a repeat of past behavior of the delays, shutdowns and stop-gap measures to fund the government. We must come together and do what’s right for our country. I am committed to doing just that.

— Congresswoman Davis represents central San Diego, including the communities of Old Town, Kensington, Mission Hills, University Heights, Hillcrest Bankers Hill, North Park, South Park, Talmadge, Normal Heights, as well as La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Spring Valley and parts of El Cajon and Chula Vista.

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