Mack in Bonita, berates Congress
Southwest Florida has big problems and national leaders are only offering small solutions, U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fort Myers, told a gathering of Bonita Springs Area Chamber of Commerce members Tuesday.
The group of 150 heard from Southwest Florida's congressman about what he says matters most: the Interstate 75 expansion, taxes and immigration.
Mack said Congress isn't doing enough to help the rapidly growing area.
"We have to think outside the box to find solutions,'' he said. "Southwest Florida is unique, and I grew up here, so I understand what matters. There are a lot of things going on in Washington and I sometimes feel pressured to talk about it all."
At the top of Mack's list is I-75. He spoke adamantly against using tolls to pay for two new lanes.
"We already pay taxes and we ought to find other ways to pay for it," he said. "I'm certain we will find a solution, but once you put a toll in ... the money doesn't always go for transportation."
He is equally committed not to raise taxes. He said people need the money to spend, which will help the economy continue to grow.
"We have passed the first budget of this new leadership and it means $3,000 from each of our pockets," said Mack, adding that a sluggish economy doesn't benefit from increased taxes. "We need to change the thinking away from so much spending."
And, change is exactly what Mack wants Congress to do about immigration.
"We need to protect our borders north and south and think realistically about how many people we actually need to do jobs in this country," he said.
Mack said he doesn't believe in amnesty for those who are already in the country undocumented but admits the United States has a lot of work ahead.
"It's become so political that we may end up somewhere in the middle and that will be difficult for me," Mack said about the gamut of solutions being considered in immigration policies.
"It's great to come out here and talk about these issues with a group like this," Mack said after the speech. "People just want to see results and hopefully we can see them soon."
Chamber president Nancy Keefer said the speech shed some light on Washington and gave Mack a view from the trenches.
"This gives (Mack) a chance to address the business industry and see what is happening locally," said Keefer. "They are the ones working in the trenches and these issues affect the business community directly."