PAWTUCKET — Flanked by several local business leaders, Brendan Doherty, Republican candidate for Rhode Island's First Congressional District, held a press conference on Tuesday to unveil an energy plan based on a bipartisan legislative initiative aimed at reducing energy costs and building a more skilled manufacturing work pool.
With the historic Slater Mill as a backdrop, Doherty spoke of the need for America to bring back its manufacturing base, particularly by lowering energy costs. He announced he was embracing a comprehensive energy strategy advocated by the Bipartisan Energy Working Group that seeks to lower energy costs for consumers and small businesses while generating royalty income that will be available to invest in infrastructure, renewable energy, worker training and environmental conservation. This plan would serve to reduce the deficit without imposing new taxes, he stated.
Doherty said his plan, which he called “Re-energizing America,” is based in part upon a bill (H.R. 1861) called the Infrastructure Jobs and Energy Independence Act that was submitted in 2011 by the Bipartisan Energy Working Group. He said the increased revenues from federal royalties and distribution of those funds could be used for infrastructure development, renewable energy production, environmental and conservation efforts, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, deficit reduction, and advanced manufacturing training.
'This kind of game changing proposal would have an economic multiplier effect,” said Doherty. “Lower energy costs for consumers would allow for greater purchasing power and encourage economic growth. Lower energy costs for small businesses would allow for greater investment in innovation and growth. Meanwhile, increased infrastructure and development of traditional and renewable energy resources would provide job growth in those industries and the manufacturing training proposal would be particularly beneficial in Rhode Island where our large number of unemployed residents could take advantage of the program.”
Doherty contrasted his plan—a proposal to allow private companies to invest in their own success and restore the economy to create jobs—with the “Make It In America” Block Grant Program being supported by his Democratic opponent, Congressman David Cicilline. Cicilline's plan, Doherty said, would create additional government bureaucracy and hand out taxpayer funds to selected companies.
“Congressman Cicilline's proposal not only lacks the bipartisan support that will be necessary to pass, but it also represents a policy of government 'picking the winners,' which has not worked on the federal level or in the state of Rhode Island,” Doherty said. Of Rhode Island's high unemployment rate and lack of skilled manufacturing employees, he added, “We are the greatest little state in the country. We can do better than this.”
Among those voicing support for Doherty's “Re-energizing America” plan was Al Lubrano, president and CEO of Materion Technical Materials in Lincoln and Chairman of the Rhode Island Manufacturers Association. He said Doherty backs a five-point plan needed for a “manufacturing job renaissance” in the United States and that the proposed legislation addresses two of these points: giving manufacturers a competitive source of energy, and funds to use for training and workforce development.
“This stuff is not rocket science,” said Lubrano. “We need jobs.” He added, however, that he finds there is a shortage of workers who possess the level of math, science and other skills needed for high-tech manufacturing processes such as the type done at Materion.
David M. Chenevert, president of the Cumberland-based Swissline Precision Manufacturing, said that he, too, has had trouble finding a skilled labor pool--so much so that it has hindered the company's ability to expand. He said that business leaders and educators need to work together to develop a skilled labor program and what Doherty is advocating is “a long term answer to the concerns of manufacturers in Rhode Island.”
Bob Nangle, president of Meridian Printing in East Greenwich, and Bill McCourt, executive director of the Rhode Island Manufacturers Association, also spoke of their support for Doherty's plan.