Another missive from the Jack Wagner campaign:
The economy in the United States is bad and Pennsylvanians are hurting. Our families are being squeezed by high and prolonged unemployment, by rising costs for gasoline, electricity, health care, and education, and have suffered a dramatic reduction in pensions and other forms of savings. One in five Americans is currently unemployed or underemployed. One in eight Americans is on food stamps. Allegheny and Philadelphia counties each lost 20,000 jobs in 2009, nearly 20 percent of the entire commonwealth’s job loss.
There is no miracle on the horizon. We need to face up to the tough economic times and take the necessary steps to cope with the situation in a manner that does not further stress family finances. That is what my campaign is all about.
There are common sense solutions that will make state government a catalyst for job creation and economic revival. These solutions do not involve tax increases. We can’t ask for new taxes at a time when we are in the most serious economic crisis since the Great Depression. There needs to be more emphasis placed on making sure every single tax dollar that all of you pay is properly spent.
We need massive reform in state government. The size of the Legislature must be reduced, a measure that I championed as a state Senator even when it was an unpopular idea. We also must eliminate bonuses in state government, and I am the only elected official to sound that alarm.
State government also needs to get its spending under control. Pennsylvania has a significant deficit, and it’s very difficult to fill that void. The only real way to do it is with reform in state government. We have to find greater efficiencies in every department of state government. As Governor, I will eliminate waste and be more efficient with tax dollars. I will also pass state budgets on time.
We also need to reform that state’s contracting process that currently leaves out many qualified companies. There are not enough companies involved in the bidding process to create economic opportunity for smaller companies that can bring innovation, that can bring jobs, and that can reduce the costs of contracts in state government.
We have examples of the state awarding contracts when only one company submitted a bid. The American system doesn’t work that way. There has to be competition to get the best price. There has to be competition to get creativity and innovation. If you do not have competition, the system is not serving the taxpayers well. As Governor, I will demand that there be competition in every single contract in state government.
While we reform state government and open contracts to competition, we must also do a better job of providing students the help they need to prepare for productive employment. Therefore, higher education must be at the forefront of issues. We are the second leading state in terms of importing students to Pennsylvania. That means a lot to our economy. Just look at Centre County where unemployment remains lowest in the state largely due to Penn State University being a premier economic engine there.
We need to make our higher education system stronger and reduce costs to make education more affordable and accessible. Other states have addressed that issue through a HOPE scholarship program and Pennsylvania should start one too. HOPE stands for Helping Our Pupils Excel. The program would help students go to a state-owned, state-related, vocational- technical, community, or private college, university, or school by providing a grant at a level equal to the cost of tuition at a state system university. As Governor, I will provide a HOPE scholarship program paid for by the expansion of gaming.
Pennsylvania is a magnificent commonwealth. I am proud to be a Pennsylvanian, and I know you are too. I am running for Governor to maximize Pennsylvania’s potential for the benefit of its residents. Elected officials in government need to work with you. We need to listen to your ideas and suggestions about what the priorities of government should be and must be. I have been listening, and I have heard the issues that are important to you.