Extend the wind energy tax credit, some people attending a Hutchinson town hall meeting Tuesday morning urged U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp.
One wind power proponent likened the $5 billion investment to a household replacing a furnace, while another advocate emphasized the importance of wind energy – and Hutchinson’s Siemens Wind Power plant – to the area.
“There’s no money tree in Washington, D.C.,” responded Huelskamp, opposed to renewing the subsidy set to expire at the end of the year.
They pressed him about his support for other incentives benefitting agriculture and oil and gas. He criticized the comparison and defended his stand.
They reminded him that Gov. Sam Brownback and U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, Republicans like Huelskamp, favored aid for wind energy.
And then Kate Van Cantfort, director of communications and special projects for the nonprofit Climate and Energy Project, brought it home.
Her former husband’s job could be vulnerable if Siemens suffers as a result of the subsidy ending. She noted that farm bills for years and years have provided aid for Kansas farmers, and the wind energy industry is important in Kansas.
“This is your district,” Van Cantfort said. “Protect us,” she urged Huelskamp.
“It’s not our money. We’re borrowing it,” Huelskamp said in his answer.
The federal government borrows $3 billion every day, and the national debt is over $15 trillion, he pointed out during the town hall. Ten thousand Americans reach age 65 every day, and it’s estimated Medicare could go bankrupt in as little as 11 years. Social Security is in better shape – it could last 20 years, he said.
Some people in the audience welcomed it when the topic moved from wind power, and Reno County resident Wayne Johnson told Huelskamp it was refreshing that Huelskamp was “holding firm.”
Johnson elaborated after the forum that he was referring to the congressman’s objection to extending the wind subsidy, noting that other officials tend to become part of the problem after they are elected.
Huelskamp is running unopposed for a second term in a revised 1st District covering all or part of 63 counties – down from the previous 69 counties. He has residences in Fowler and Hutchinson.
Manhattan was added to the 1st District, and Kansas State University is slated to be home to the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility.
“I’m optimistic they’ll release the funding,” Huelskamp said of the federal dollars appropriated for NBAF. He does not anticipate the dollars to flow, however, before the November general election.