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Keeping my word to continue service

Now is the time of year when I file my returns. I am not talking about my tax returns, but rather the returns I have brought home for hardworking Ohioans who keep our state moving.

Every year, my staff and I work diligently to compile my Annual Report – a document highlighting the year’s accomplishments and the issues I have been working on as a United States Senator. I find it to be an extremely effective way for me to hold myself accountable to you, the taxpayer.

When I announced a year ago that I would not seek re-election, I promised you that I would wind up and not down, just as I did in the mayor’s office in Cleveland as well as the governor’s office. And, I am keeping my word.

This year’s report highlights my work creating jobs for Ohioans and tackling the national debt, two critical issues in today’s perilous economic climate.

I never imagined I would see the national and international financial challenges confronting America today. We are arguably in the worst recession since the Great Depression. Ohio continues to be hard hit by job losses and waves of foreclosures, and I feel that it is my duty to provide a safety net for Ohio families and businesses caught in the storm.

Over the last year I have devoted myself and my time to causes that I know will make a difference in the lives of struggling Ohioans as well as goals I can accomplish before the end of 2010.

Creating Jobs: In 2009 I developed proposals to create jobs and fought for the passage of a robust new highway bill, a real jobs bill introduced at a time when construction unemployment is twice the national average. Reauthorizing a multi-year surface transportation bill would put people to work across Ohio and accelerate key road projects, including the Brent Spence Bridge in Cincinnati and the Interstate 90 Innerbelt Bridge in Cleveland which are impacting our economy and contributing to traffic congestion in our state.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., gave me his word that the reauthorization of the multi-year surface transportation bill will be brought to the Senate floor for a vote this year, and I look forward to working with my fellow senators to pass this critical legislation and get Americans back to work.

Tackling the National Debt: I also continued to bring national attention to our astronomical and ever-growing national debt in 2009 – as I have throughout my career. In 2006 I first proposed a bipartisan commission to examine our tax and entitlement systems and present long-term solutions to put the country on a fiscally-sustainable course. Since then, I repeatedly took to the Senate floor to discuss my plan for a bipartisan debt commission and remind my colleagues that our increasing national debt is the biggest challenge facing our nation.

In 2009 the president and Congress finally chose to embrace my ideas. I would have preferred to see congressional passage of a statutory debt commission, but the president chose to create one through an executive order. Sen. Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., have promised to bring the commission’s recommendations to both chambers’ floors for votes. I will hold them to their word and will work with the commission to get the job done.

Energy Independence and Climate Change: For more than a decade in the U.S. Senate, I’ve called for a “Second Declaration of Independence” from foreign sources of oil.

This year I continued my commitment to the safe and secure growth of nuclear power to deliver a clean, reliable, cost-effective and diverse energy supply. Nuclear power isn’t just good for America’s security; it will also create much-needed American jobs. I encouraged the formation of partnerships among Ohio-based nuclear plant component manufacturing businesses and key international nuclear vendors to develop more high-tech manufacturing jobs for our state.

I’ve also listened to your thoughts and concerns on climate and energy issues and remain on the forefront of the debate on climate changes. As we move forward we must strike the right balance and protect the environment without harming our economy.

For further details on the many accomplishments we saw in the first half of the 111th Congress, please contact my office and request your own copy of the Annual Report, which is available now. Or, to view an electronic version of the document, please visit my website at www.voinovich.senate.gov and click on the “News Center” section.

You have put a great trust in me and I am thankful for the privilege to serve you. Be assured that in my last year in the Senate I will do all I can to make a difference for you and your family, the state of Ohio, our nation and the world.

George Voinovich is a U.S. Senator representing Ohio.