A column published last Sunday was factually incorrect about my stance and I would like to set the record straight using facts — not scorecards.
I do represent one of the poorest districts in the nation and Putnam County — one of the poorest counties in the state. In 2016, Putnam County had a 7 percent unemployment rate, a 64 percent graduation rate, low wages and had received $16.4 million in federal grants for infrastructure, first responder equipment, school and health programs. I did not represent Putnam at that time and, upon re-election, we began to serve that area in January of 2017.
Today I’m happy to report the unemployment has dropped to 4.4 percent, the graduation rate has risen to 84.4 percent, wages have increased by $6,700 on average and federal grants delivered to Putnam County have increased to over $64 million, according to government reports. This money has helped to improve infrastructure, public safety, school programs and affordable housing.
In addition, businesses and developers have been making investments into the county to the tune of nearly $1 billion. And yes, the American Tax Cut and Jobs Act that I voted for has had a major impact in helping turn this county around for the better.
More broadly, we have worked hard to get approval for four new Veterans Affairs facilities in the district and one has already begun construction to serve an underserved area. In addition to these four new VA clinics, we have secured the federal funding for a VA nursing home in Marion County.
Our team has returned over $12 million to constituents in the last six years from government agencies such as the Social Security Administration, the VA and the Internal Revenue Service. Already this year our office returned over $800,000 back to our constituents by mid-March. And yet, none of these tangible victories are reported by The Sun nor mentioned in Greg McGann’s column.
As for climate change initiatives mentioned by McGann, he neglected to mention the work we have done with Seminole Electric to support its conversion from coal to liquefied natural gas-generated electricity. He also neglected to include the $17 million we helped secure for local co-ops to upgrade their grids to make them more efficient and secure. In addition, we have also worked tirelessly to bring multiple solar-farm facilities to the district which produce clean energy for the region.
Finally, I would like to address the blanket statement that I do not support federal employees. During the government shutdown I did vote against the Democrat proposal. I did this because it would have made permanent changes to Congress’s control of the spending. Conveniently not mentioned in this column was that I have several times in the past voted in favor of back pay for federal employees. Unfortunately, the Nancy Pelosi-led Congress has stripped this authority of the purse strings away from a future Congress.
McGann claims I do not represent my constituents. Again, I disagree. Every day, my team and I work extremely hard to represent our constituents who come from a variety of backgrounds. To broadly state that I have not worked on behalf of the many veterans, seniors, students, employers and employees of this district is not only false but maliciously wrong.
I did not run for office for a grade on a scorecard from a political organization. I ran because I wanted to serve my community and get things done. I believe the results speak for themselves.
There are many more initiatives to list but space is short. I would suggest McGann in the future take the time to reach out to me or my office and talk to us and get the facts. After all, you lose credibility by not being informed with the facts.
U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho is a Republican representing Florida’s 3rd Congressional District.