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(Wed., Feb. 24, 2010, Washington, D.C.) — Mayor Mufi Hannemann joined a bipartisan delegation of more than thirty U.S. mayors in meetings with federal lawmakers on Capitol Hill today to encourage them to put aside partisan differences and quickly pass a comprehensive jobs bill that puts Americans back to work and invests in Main Street metropolitan economies, where joblessness is concentrated.


In a news conference today prior to their Hill meetings, mayors highlighted the growing unemployment numbers in their individual cities and pressed for a sense of urgency on Capitol Hill.


            “We must act now to create and preserve good, dependable jobs that allow people to provide for themselves and their families,” said Hannemann, who serves as chairman of the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Committee on Tourism, Arts, Parks, Entertainment and Sports, and is a USCM trustee. “Locally, as I continue to push for federal funding support for our rail transit project, there are other opportunities for all Hawaii’s counties to help us in our quest to turn this sagging economy around.”

            Hannemann said he is very hopeful the Senate will soon approve the Travel Promotion Act, which would create a public-private partnership to promote the United States as a premier international travel destination. The travel promotion would be paid for by private sector contributions and a modest fee on foreign travelers. The US Travel Association, of which the Conference of Mayors is a member, estimates that the bill would attract 1.6 million new international visitors, create nearly 40,000 new jobs in its first year, and would generate $4 billion in new economic activity and contribute over $320 million in new federal tax revenue each year.


            “The U.S. Conference of Mayors has made this measure a priority to boost the visitor industry and help improve our nation’s economy,” Hannemann said. The Senate could take a final vote on the measure this Friday.


            Hannemann has also invited the City Council, through its Chairman Todd Apo, to his meeting on Friday with Federal Transit Administration head Peter Rogoff to discuss Honolulu’s rail project, which is expected to create thousands of new jobs and help revitalize Hawaii’s economy. Rogoff and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood recently announced that $55 million for Honolulu’s project has been included in President Obama’s proposed budget, and that the project is poised to receive a full funding grant agreement of $1.55 billion next year.


At today’s news conference, U.S. Conference of Mayors President and Burnsville, MN Mayor Elizabeth Kautz said mayors are holding the nation together by making tough decisions everyday, and “have made cuts to the point where only bone is left. This year will be one of the toughest for local budgets with cities facing severe shortfalls and even more employee layoffs.”


Kautz recognized the Senate jobs bill introduced by Senator Reid (D-NV) as a first step saying, “While mayors are pleased that the Senate has agreed to move forward with a modest tax bill to help small businesses hire new workers and create new jobs, no one should be under the illusion that this bill alone can address the nation’s unemployment problem.”


Last month, Hannemann and more than 200 of the nation’s mayors came to Washington, D.C. to advocate their 2010 Metro Agenda for America as a means to job creation. The Metro Agenda prioritizes direct fiscal assistance to cities, block grants for green jobs, investments in neighborhoods through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), COPS grants for public safety jobs, summer jobs for young people, targeted transportation projects for infrastructure jobs, and passage of the Tourism Promotion Act.


The U.S. Conference of Mayors is pleased that the House passed a jobs bill last December that includes many of their Metro Agenda priorities, and is calling on the Senate to act on the House bill.


“The mayors are grateful for the support we’ve received in the House thus far, and I’ve asked Hawaii Senators Daniel Akaka and Daniel Inouye, on behalf of my mayoral colleagues around the country, to assist the nation’s cities,” Hannemann said.


The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are 1,139 such cities in the country today. Each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor. More information about the Conference is available at .




Media contact: Bill Brennan, Mayor’s Office, 768-6928