“You guys just saw a hands-on demonstration of why community colleges are so important,” Bustos said. “There are not enough welders to fill the jobs that are out there. There is a local company that can fill 50 slots of welders right now. Community colleges play a very important role in filling those jobs.”
Strides have been made in national and local unemployment figures, but Bustos said those numbers still need to come down. She said her 17th Congressional District is prime for further recovery, given the number of manufacturing jobs in Rockford, the Quad Cities, Peoria and Galesburg. The local manufacturing center can be enhanced with a well-trained work force, she said.
“We feel very fortunate of how the 17th district is comprised,” Bustos said. “Where you have high unemployment, and you have community colleges that can help train people, and you’ve got these manufacturing sectors in place, I think we have a formula to get the economy rolling again, and manufacturing jobs are a part of that.”
House Republicans have agreed to temporarily increase the government’s borrowing limit in exchange for the Senate producing a budget, which will set the parameters for talks on government spending reductions. Bustos ran on a platform to preserve programs like Medicare and Social Security and promised to “not balance the budget on the backs of seniors and the middle class.” She said she would also like to see Pell Grants kept intact, so local citizens can be trained for in-demand work.
Bustos, who defeated one-term conservative Rep. Bobby Schilling in November, has been a member of Congress for 22 days. She has been named to the House’s transportation committee, a designation she hopes will aid local projects such as a new I-74 bridge near Iowa.