Making Pennsylvania's Future Secure

As 2017 gets underway, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives begins a new legislative session, each member duty-bound to serve constituents and communities where they live. I look forward to what this session can bring to help make Pennsylvania’s future secure.

Pennsylvania voters delivered a very strong message in 2016, leaving no doubt that an economy that works for everybody is a vital priority. This includes jobs that pay a family-sustaining wage, a secure retirement and affordable, reliable health care that meets physical and mental health needs. This will mean we need to lay the groundwork for more manufacturing jobs and level the playing field for small businesses. To do this, we will need to invest in students of every age and every ZIP code. We need early childhood education so every child is ready for kindergarten, community schools so students can get a good education regardless of where they live, affordable college, and job training so our workforce can take advantage of a prosperous economy.

As we build a strong economy, Pennsylvania also needs to take steps to build a robust democracy. Voters are frustrated with partisan gridlock and they deserve government that works, delivering efficient and reliable services for taxpayers. We must meet our obligation to take care of people at the margins: children, the aging, infirmed, individuals with disability and mental health challenges and those who have fallen on hard times. Additionally, we need to increase participation in the democratic process through easier voter registration, early voting and no-excuse absentee voting. Finally, as elected officials, we need to increase confidence in democratic institutions and government by powerful special interests by securing greater transparency, enacting campaign finance reform and putting an end to gerrymandering by reforming the way legislative districts are drawn.

Nothing will be of greater consequence for our future than taking steps to protect our environment. No job or opportunity can replace the creation that offers us a place to live and raise our families. We have a duty to pass it onto our children and grandchildren. To do this, we need to secure our environmental resources from big polluters by protecting open space, forests, waterways and air.

There is no doubt 2017 will be a year of very difficult choices. As elected officials, we will need to come together, find solutions that work and deliver for Pennsylvania. There are no shortcuts to unbalanced budgets and the shortcuts taken in years past have created crisis upon crisis, each seemingly bigger than the last. The short-sightedness needs to end so all Pennsylvanians can enjoy the fruits of an economy that works better for everybody, a stronger form of democracy and an environment where we are safe to live and raise our families.