By DAN GUZEWICH Staff writer
Rep. Richard L. Hanna, R-24, Barneveld, would like to see President Obama emphasize math and science education and push for enactment of a multiyear highway bill in his third State of the Union address Tuesday night.
"It’s important to me," he said of the promotion of science, technology, engineering and math in schools. Hanna says better training for students is a way to build good-paying jobs and to grow the middle class. A vibrant middle class is good for the U.S. treasury too, the congressman adds.
"That’s where ultimately most tax dollars have come from historically," he observed.
He said a highway bill of five to six years in duration would be "great opportunity to put people to work."
He says infrastructure spending as outlined in a highway bill that appropriates money to states can improve the economy and maintain a road and bridge system.
"It doesn’t require new dollars," he said, noting the funding comes from the Highway Trust Fund. It receives money from a federal fuel tax of 18.4 cents per gallon on gasoline and 24.4 cents per gallon of diesel fuel and related excise taxes.
Hanna is a vice chair of the Highways and Transit Subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Rep. William L. Owens, D-23, Plattsburgh, who is Oneida County’s other congressman, could not be reached this morning.
Hanna expects the president to "draw a clear line between the Republicans’ agenda as he perceives it and his own." He later adds, "... and I think he should do that." The House is controlled by Republicans.
Tuesday night’s speech is expected to continue a theme the president began last month. In a Dec. 6 address in Osawatomie, Kan., Obama described stark differences between a Republican ideology he described as leaving people to fend for themselves and his vision of government that helps provide equal opportunity for all Americans regardless of where they begin in life.
"It’ll be interesting to see how he does it and how thoughtfully he does that," Hanna said.
The first-term congressman is in the political middle in Congress, will to go against his party’s positions at times.
"He can lay out his agenda and juxtapose it to other agendas," Hanna said of the president.
The congressman has invited an Iraq war veteran to be his guest in the House gallery. Each member is allowed one guess in the balcony overlooking the House floor.
Hanna will sit with Republican and Democratic members of the upstate delegation. Mixed seating does not normally occur. However, some lawmakers began breaking with tradition last year because of calls for more civility and less partisanship after Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ shooting in Arizona.