08/16/06 — Senator stops in county; discusses health care, education

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Senator stops in county; discusses health care, education

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on August 16, 2006 1:54 PM

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr visited Goldsboro Tuesday, speaking before the Goldsboro Rotary Club and later visiting the Pate-Dawson Co. at the county's industrial park.

Burr, a Republican, addressed issues ranging from education and health care to the price of gasoline.

He said the U.S. must reconsider its dependence on oil from the Middle East. Oil currently costs $73 a barrel, he noted, with a significant portion ending up in the hands of people who do not support the U.S. Americans need to realize that, he said.

"Forty dollars of that is going into the pockets of the people we run into on the battlefield every day. Some of that money is going to terrorism," Burr said. That is why it is important that the country seeks alternative fuels, he added.

Burr recently returned from a trip to China. He said the growing economic development there will likely have an enormous effect on the world economy in the next few decades.

"China has 1.3 billion people. It really is a slap in the face to see the capabilities of a fully developed China in the future," Burr said.

That economic explosion will also have an impact on the price of fuel, Burr noted. In five years, he said, projections show the number of automobiles in China will grow exponentially, driving a huge demand for more oil. Again, he said, that is reason for the U.S. to seriously explore alternative sources of energy.

"We can no longer be held hostage to the price of oil based on China's economy or that country's stability or the lack of stability in the Middle East," Burr said.

Closer to home, Burr talked about health care and the trouble the average American has keeping up with rising medical costs. State and local governments are struggling to find ways to pay for Medicare and Medicaid mandates, he said.

"Health care has become unsustainable. It will require leaders in Washington and the state capitals to think about what their role should be," he said.

Burr commended local government officials for the efforts they have made to improve the area's economy. Many counties across the state have begun to look to biotechnology and other new technologies as well as to foreign investment to shore up its industrial structure, he said. The state's university and community college systems have helped in this growth by providing the training to prepare students for becoming a part of the workforce, Burr said.

"Some counties haven't naturally followed as others have. Those that haven't will begin to feel the growth in the coming years," Burr said.

Burr also visited neighboring counties on a swing through the eastern part of the state this week.

In Duplin County, he presented a $3,800 grant for fire department improvements to town officials. In Kenansville, he participated in a ground-breaking ceremony at the Duplin Commons Agribusi-ness Complex for the Carolina East Hospice, which will be built on N.C. 50 in Kenansville.