Walz speaks to his supporters

NEW ULM – First District Congressman Tim Walz stopped in New Ulm on Sunday to speak to supporters at the American Legion club rooms.

As a member of the Transportation Committee, the four-term Democrat expressed strong support for the Highway 14 project, saying no one wants to see the road project completed more than he does. “It’s not hyperbole to say we all know someone killed in an accident on this road,” he said.

Walz expressed confidence that infrastructure projects, such as highway upgrades would bring bipartisan support. The changes needed to Highway 4 are not only limited to safety, but also to economic condition. By expanding the roadway to four lanes, area businesses could grow. By voting against these road projects, politicians are costing Minnesota businesses, he said.

Asked about the backlog in Veteran Affairs Claims, Walz cited a lack of communication between the Veterans Health and Veterans Benefits Administration branch, as the major reason for the slow down. When veteran claims increased dramatically in 2009 and 2010, many in the VA were not prepared. In addition, the VA recently began accepting Agent Orange claims. By accepting claims dating back to the Vietnam era, claims increased by 60,000. Walz said the backlog in claims was still an issue, but he believes the system is improving. In the past many veterans were simply denied service. The new attitude is to get veterans into the system and back on their feet again. “It’s the morally correct thing to do, and the right thing for our country,” Walz said.

Another concern addressed was the federal government’s failure to fund special education mandates. “The option is to keep our promise and fund this or take off the requirement,” Walz said.

“The easiest thing in Congress is to say no,” said Walz.

He said that saying no may seem fiscally responsible, but it can be short sighted. “By saying no to a transportation bill, you cost us a $105 billion in idle tax.” Walz referenced the government shutdown saying that it cost $24 billion, which is the entire budget of the National Institute of Health, and served only a few “grand-standing politicians.”

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