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A Partnership for Pennsylvania

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"A Partnership for Pennsylvania"

This week, the congressional delegation from Pennsylvania had the opportunity to meet collectively with the Commonwealth's recently-elected governor, Ed Rendell. It was his first trip to Washington in his capacity as Governor and he used the occasion to express his concerns and hopes for Pennsylvania's citizens. I am pleased, as a statewide elected official at the federal level, that Governor Rendell and the delegation share many of the same priorities with respect to the growth of our state. I also appreciate the Governor's efforts to reach out to us in a cooperative attempt to reach our mutual goal of putting Pennsylvania first.

Among the many issues the Governor raised were health care problems, transportation and infrastructure needs, education funding and welfare reform. All of these legislative concerns carry federal and state responsibilities and each of us, in our respective positions, has an obligation to address them. We can most effectively respond to the specific, regionalized needs of the Commonwealth through collaboration and smart leadership. Pennsylvania's elderly must have a prescription drug benefit, the Medicaid program and Medicare provider reimbursements require a better funding mechanism, and highway and mass transit projects should be creatively approached for the structural revitalization of our cities. We face a number of challenges related to medical care, education, and economic development, but collaboration will allow for more responsive, innovative solutions.

For nearly a decade, Governor Rendell and I have worked together to bring Southeastern Pennsylvania the benefits of federal dollars for nationally important economic and cultural initiatives. Much of our effort has been focused on defense-related activity, specifically through the Navy: from ship disposal jobs at the Naval Shipyard and helicopter construction in Ridley Park to corporate and academic research grants for developing better technology for our troops. We have made improvements to the city's transportation infrastructure and supported the area's renowned cultural institutions. The National Constitution Center is a wonderful example of a joint enterprise that has brought dollars and employment to the city while honoring its historical role in the founding of our nation. Now, the scope of our joint abilities will allow us to explore the possibilities of even greater benefit to the state at large. One venture we spoke about specifically this week is a mass-transit, energy-efficient system built on magnetic levitation that would provide much-needed urban transport capability without creating pollution or noise. I look forward to continuing with this and other novel approaches to meeting the needs of the Commonwealth.

As a freshman senator eight years ago, one of the very first meetings I scheduled was with Ed Rendell, then-Mayor of Philadelphia. The mission then, as now, is more important than partisanship - it is the well-being of and quality of life for the 12 million people we serve. In his inaugural address last month, Governor Rendell expressed his belief in "the tremendous spirit and pride" that Pennsylvanians have always displayed. Both he and I are inspired by the strength of the people who make up our great state and by the diversity of their passions and talents. Recognizing the power of addressing our mutual constituency's concerns together, I extended my hand in partnership to Mayor Rendell in 1995. This week, that spirit of cooperation was rekindled and I am confident that Pennsylvania's progress will be all the better for it.

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