|Schock outlines priorities for 113th Congress
Infrastructure, agriculture, education and debt control were outlined by U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock as priorities for the upcoming year on the local and national levels. Schock was the keynote speaker at the Rotary Club of Downtown Peoria on Jan. 11 to a crowd of about 100.
As the House returns for the 113th Congress, House Republicans’ focus will be on growing our economy and getting government spending under control. Schock wants to reform the tax code to create a simpler and fairer tax code that doesn’t penalize hard work, provides additional middle-class tax relief and promotes economic growth and job creation.
He also discussed the recent focus in Washington on the fiscal cliff and the necessary future focus on controlling the nation's debt that is only destabilizing the economy. At $16 trillion -- that’s more than $50,000 for every American -- the national debt is a drag on our economy and a threat to our future.
"Oftentimes, people will say, 'Aaron, you've got to be willing to negotiate, you've got to be willing to come to the middle, you've got to be willing to work with your colleagues on both sides of the aisle'," Schock said. "I would use this as an example that negotiation and compromise requires two willing parties."
“We took a giant step to provide certainty and keep taxes low for middle-class taxpayers by permanently extending the tax cuts that were first enacted in 2001,” Schock said.
Schock also discussed the importance of long-term investment in infrastructure. "We have not had a major infrastructure bill pass in Congress in the last two decades," he noted.
"I've got a lot of small towns in my district and to the degree people can get to and from those communities, they can fly out of airports, they can get on trains is the degree they can have economic development," he said.
Congress last year passed a highway bill, which will fund the nation’s roads, rails, bridges, and infrastructure through September 2014. Schock has been a vocal advocate for the benefits of a long-term highway bill, not only for Illinois, but for moving commerce throughout the country, to incentivize employers to locate here and for domestic job creation.
The top industry in Central Illinois is agriculture. Free Trade Agreements with Panama, South Korea, and Colombia recently signed into law allow Illinois farmers can compete in the global arena. During his third term, Schock said he's "looking for new markets and looking for new trade agreements that will mean customers for my agriculture or manufacturing businesses in my district."
Aaron presides over the House chamber during the vote for a highway bill
Education and getting students to graduate high school should be a priority, Schock said. Since 2005, when he first was a state representative, Schock has sponsored a summer reading program that has engaged more than 100,000 students and encourages them to read.
The most pressing K-12 education issue facing the 113th Congress, Schock said, is the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended by the No Child Left Behind law. The law created the laudable goal of ensuring all children are proficient in reading and math by 2014. Schock believes good teachers who improve their students’ ability to learn should be rewarded on the basis of their student’s individual progress instead of a student’s test scores.