Salazar to visit Steamboat

Social Security, rural needs slated for discussion at town hall meeting

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Social Security and rural needs will be on U.S. Rep. John Salazar's mind when he visits Steamboat Springs on Thursday.

Salazar, D-Manassa, is scheduled to host a town hall meeting from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Thursday at City Hall.

Among the topics slated for discussion are Social Security and Salazar's recent legislative efforts to secure federal funds for state transportation needs, according to a statement issued by Salazar's Washington office.

"I want to make sure that I'm taking your concerns back to Congress, so I hope you will come to this town hall meeting, meet my local staff and let us know what we can do to help," Salazar said in the statement.

The stop will be Salazar's first official visit to Routt County since voters here helped him to a narrow victory in the 3rd Congressional District last November. The freshman congressman from the San Luis Valley defeated Republican challenger Greg Walcher for the seat vacated by former GOP Rep. Scott McInnis. More than 57 percent of Routt County voters supported Salazar's bid.

As the lone Coloradan on the House Transportation Com--mittee, Salazar recently helped secure passage of a transportation bill that would provide the state with a 40 percent increase in federal highway funds. The bill would provide $52.5 million for projects within the 3rd Congressional District.

"I have made a commitment to increasing economic development in our rural communities," Salazar said. "As a member of Congress, I am fighting to make sure that rural Colorado gets its fair share of federal tax dollars."

Salazar is co-sponsoring legislation that would provide permanent and full funding of the federal Payment in Lieu of Taxes, or PILT, program. PILT program funds are paid to counties with federal lands within their boundaries. The funds are used to help counties offset property tax revenue not collected on the federal lands. Salazar said rural counties need that money for education and emergency services, and he has warned against proposed cuts to the PILT program.

The younger brother of U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar also introduced legislation that would have prevented money in the Social Security trust fund from being used to establish personal savings accounts. Salazar has said that all money put into the trust fund should be used only for paying Social Security benefits. His legislation was turned away on a procedural vote in the House.

Salazar spokeswoman Nay--yera Haq said the congressman wants to provide a congressional update as well as an opportunity for his constituents to voice any concerns or issues they might have. The meeting is open to the public.

Salazar also will make stops in Grand Junction and Glenwood Springs during his Colorado trip.

-- To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234

or e-mail bboyer@steamboatpilot.com

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