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Published: Tuesday, 3/23/2010

Voinovich says he'll keep pushing till end

Voinovich Voinovich

George Voinovich is leaving the U.S. Senate this year and he wants it known he "may be retiring, but I'm not quitting."

In Perrysburg yesterday to address the annual meeting of the Northwest Ohio Regional Economic Development Association and receive a lifetime achievement award from the group, the Ohio senator said he still has a lot to accomplish before he steps down at year's end.

Tops on his list are getting the transportation bill reauthorized, which will increase the gas tax by 10 cents and generate funds to pay for new roads and infrastructure. He also plans to work on legislation to resolve sewer overflow - a problem that bedevils northwest Ohio and an issue that punishes many communities that are forced by federal rules to pay for fixes he said they cannot afford.

The senator said it's time for Congress to "get serious" about its huge debt by cutting entitlements and enacting tax reform; otherwise the primary debt holders, China and OPEC nations, will be in greater position to influence U.S. foreign policy. He said climate change legislation is needed, but it must be in a way that lets companies get at oil reserves in this country and promotes things like electric vehicles and clean-coal technology. "In other words, you find more [resources] and you use less," Mr. Voinovich said.

Jerry Hayes, legislative chairman of the development association of 12 counties in northwest Ohio, said before the meeting Mr. Voinovich met privately with regional economic development leaders to talk about the same issues in his speech later.

Mr. Hayes said the senator's appearance attracted officials from the Ohio Department of Transportation, leading to informal chats about regional projects and more economic development. "That wasn't part of the main program, but it was nice to see," he said.

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