OTTAWA - Uncertainty was all U.S. Rep. Bob Latta had to offer in regards to funding for the Blanchard River Flood Reduction Project during his visit to Putnam County last week.Latta held a courthouse conference and was available for one-on-one sessions with Putnam County residents on Thursday, May 2, at the Putnam County Courthouse.
The issue, according to Latta, is the congressional ban on earmarks. He indicated that in order to perform an Army Corps project, a congressional earmark is required.
"Our problem in Washington is that we are not allowed to do earmarks [at the federal level] anymore so this could not be earmarked," said Latta. "Since we couldn't earmark this we have to go through the whole process through the Army Corps."
Latta said without the targeted funding the Corps prioritizes projects and puts in their requests hoping they are included in line items. The congressman from Ohio's 5th district stated the Blanchard River Flood Reduction Project was not included in the budget for the second half of the 2013 fiscal year.
The final phase of study, which was denied funding in early April, is needed to rise to the Chief's Level to be considered.
"Right now we are still working on the Chief's reports, but are stuck without the funding," said Latta.
The Republican representative has been on the front lines of reducing federal spending. However, Latta said the government needs to be smart when making cuts.
"I think there are certain things that only the federal government can do," said Latta. "This project is something for the national government. When you are dealing with flooding and natural disaster, that is a national issue. Now we have to find the appropriations for it."
Latta expressed a desire for closely examining the budget line by line.
"If we do that, we could be in good shape and be able to make cuts," said Latta. "We can look to the 2008 budget as a way to get past our differences."
While meeting with constituents, Latta reinforced his staunch support of funding for flood mitigation.
"We need to find permanent solutions to the [Blanchard River] flooding problem," said Latta.
He also discussed his hopeful outlook for the country.
"We have the potential to become self-reliant in the energy industry," said Latta.
Though hopeful, he fears federal meddling will prevent job growth and economic improvement.
"If the feds get involved and over-regulate, we could miss out on 3.5 million jobs," said Latta.