It’s Time to Restore, Rebuild, & Reimagine a Stronger Pennsylvania

I have long believed that strong families, vibrant communities, great schools, and a diverse economy are foundational to an opportunity society where every resident has the opportunity to experience earned success and upward economic mobility.

However, there is no doubt that the COVID-19 global pandemic has created new barriers to experiencing opportunity in Pennsylvania. These past few months have surely not been easy, but Pennsylvanians have proven themselves able to adapt to difficult situations. The COVID-19 pandemic is no different. I am confident that our great Commonwealth will indeed continue to adapt and overcome the new challenges created by the pandemic.

Early on, as COVID-19 first reached our Commonwealth, I launched the Restore, Rebuild, & Reimagine Pennsylvania initiative in an effort to invite my constituents in the 36th Senatorial District to innovate and create new ideas with me; to adapt and overcome these new challenges together.

As such, I set out in April to collect feedback, thoughts, ideas, problems, and solutions to issues that constituents see and experience firsthand in their communities, schools, farms, businesses, and families. From the outset, I promised to share this feedback in the form of a final report with my colleagues in the General Assembly and use the ideas we collected as a blueprint to inform our legislative agenda.

The final report, which can be found on my website, contains a compilation of the feedback I received and the legislative response to that feedback. The report is broken out into five different categories based on what I heard from constituents:

Health

Even before the pandemic, I was committed to addressing the existing challenges within our healthcare system, including the rising cost of prescription drugs, health insurance, and healthcare in general. In many ways, the pandemic has exacerbated these old problems while also creating a slew of new ones. My priority then and now is to ensure that Pennsylvanians have access to the high-quality, affordable healthcare they need by:

  1. Reforming the healthcare system to ensure a focus on quality, access, cost, and continuity of services throughout the pandemic and beyond.
  2. Lowering the cost of healthcare services and prescription drugs.
  3. Combatting the ongoing opioid epidemic.

Economy

It’s no secret that Pennsylvania’s economy has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic and Governor Wolf’s response to it. Revenue projections for the upcoming fiscal year are bleak and the budget shortfall our state will face is nothing short of historic. Pennsylvania needs a bold economic agenda – a plan that will help us rebuild our state’s economy by:

  1. Providing financial and legal assistance to small businesses and non-profits.
  2. Reducing the tax burden.
  3. Stimulating economic growth.

Education

A strong education system is critical to ensuring that all Pennsylvanians reach their full potential and have the opportunity to experience earned success and upward economic mobility.  In the last year, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the disparities between our schools as well as the many ways schools have become far more than just a building to teach curriculum.  It is for this reason that I continue to support legislative efforts to strengthen our education system by:

  1. Expanding educational options for students and parents.
  2. Removing barriers for teachers and schools to continue providing high-quality, student-centered education.
  3. Increasing wrap-around student support services.
  4. Reducing the financial burden of education on taxpayers, students, and parents alike.

Family & Community

I’ve always said that strong families are the foundation of vibrant communities. But a thriving community is so much more than just a network of strong families – successful schools, access to necessities such as childcare, family and medical leave, municipal services, broadband, and high-quality, high-paying jobs are all necessary ingredients for a thriving community. Pennsylvania communities from all corners of the Commonwealth have suffered immeasurable harm due to COVID-19. I intend to foster the restoration of thriving families and communities throughout the Commonwealth by:

  1. Supporting families and building strong, vibrant communities.
  2. Bolstering first responder services, such as fire and EMS.
  3. Investing in the agriculture industry and supporting Pennsylvania farmers.
  4. Expanding broadband access.

Government Reform

If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that government needs to work better, period. The fumbled response to the pandemic has truly served to highlight the inefficiencies, lack of transparency and accountability, overregulation, and breakdowns within our system of government here in Pennsylvania. Moving forward, I want to reform the way our state government works by:

  1. Eliminating waste through fraud detection, consolidation of services, reducing frivolous spending, and responsible budgeting.
  2. Restoring the balance of power between the three branches of government.
  3. Increasing government transparency and accountability.
  4. Reducing government overreach and overregulation.

I recognize that everyone will not agree with every idea presented in the report. Furthermore, I recognize that the report doesn’t capture all the issues that residents may wish to address. Rather, the report is intended to launch a conversation and to ultimately build support for action.

I invite you to join the conversation.

I agree with the overwhelming majority of constituents – now is the time for bold ideas and dynamic leadership. Together, I’m confident that we can restore, rebuild, and reimagine a stronger Pennsylvania.

Read my full Restore, Rebuild, & Reimagine Pennsylvania report here.