Tester lauds small business, says jobs are top priority

Great Falls Tribune

by Erin Madison

Sen. Jon Tester’s top priority continues to be creating more jobs.

“What I hear on the ground being the number one issue is jobs,” the Montana Democrat told the Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce Wednesday. “It’s my number one issue too.”

Small business will play an important role in creating more jobs, he said.

“Your state is home to some of the hardest working, innovative small business owners,” Tester said.

He said he isn’t happy with national spending levels. Small businesses and families across the country are having to tighten their belts and are looking to Washington, D.C., to do the same, he said.

Tester said he trimmed $6 billion out of the federal budget and voted against both economic bailouts.

“I don’t believe in bailouts,” he said.

However, he is concerned about the new House leadership’s priority to get rid of earmarks.

Earmarks are poorly understood, Tester said. Earmarks, or money lawmakers secure for projects in their home states, don’t add money to the budget. They only designate money that already is in the budget.

“When there are no earmarks, rural America probably will be sliced out of the pie,” he said.

Earmarks tell the president how to spend the federal budget. Without them, the budget would be handed over to D.C. bureaucrats who probably have never set foot in Montana, Tester said.

He also said that he continues to work to protect Malmstrom Air Force Base’s missiles.

The intercontinental ballistic missiles are more cost-effective than submarines or bombers, he said.

“Our ICBMs will help protect our nation without spending as much on other methods,” Tester said.

He added that he is still working on the issue of the Montana Air National Guard losing its F-15 fighter jets. MANG is set to receive a cargo-plane mission instead of the fighter mission.

“I’ll do everything I can do to make sure we don’t end up losing jobs in the deal,” he said.