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Rendell addresses issues at Democratic picnic in Pa.

August 12, 2007|By ASHLEY HARTMAN

CHAMBERSBURG, PA.

Transportation, health care, education and the Pennsylvania economy were just a few of the issues addressed at the Franklin County Democratic Picnic on Saturday.

The picnic, held Saturday at Scotland Memorial Park in Chambersburg, Pa., drew a crowd of approximately 200.

"It's definitely the biggest picnic we've had," said Beth Shupp-George, chair of the Franklin County Democratic Party.

"It's a chance for Democrats to get together, a chance to meet people who aren't already involved in the party, and to meet local and statewide candidates," said Shupp-George.

While eight of the speakers at the event were speaking about their political campaigns, guest speaker Gov. Edward Rendell, spoke to the crowd about the issues he is focusing on as governor.

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"We believe that there's nothing wrong with spending money when it's important to protect people and give people opportunities," said Rendell, who was re-elected in 2006.

Just as the bridge that collapsed in Minnesota was deemed structurally deficient, Rendell said that Pennsylvania leads the nation with 5,900 bridges that are structurally deficient.

"What happened in Minnesota was a great tragedy," Rendell said. "We're investing in our safety, in our economic growth when we rebuild our bridges."

Rendell recently signed a bill that would provide $1 billion a year to transportation costs, which would include fixing bridges.

"Republicans are glad they voted for hundreds of millions of dollars for transportation," said Abe Amoros, who is political director of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party and was the featured speaker at the picnic.

Rendell touched on Pennsylvania's economy, citing that the commonwealth currently has the highest number of jobs than ever before and the unemployment rate is at a 30-year low.

According to Amoros, Pennsylvania's budget was held up in the senate earlier this year due to "inexperienced leadership."

"The governor wouldn't pass (the budget) without his initiatives for early education, transportation and the environment," Amoros said.

Rendell's education initiatives include $75 million on the budget for pre-kindergarten, $90 million for a laptop on every desk in every high school of Pennsylvania and $25 million for full-day kindergarten, according to his speech.

As for health care, Rendell signed a bill that would give every child in Pennsylvania health insurance by 2009.

"We believe that government can, by investing wisely in things, make the quality of life better," he said.

Tony Barr, who is a 2008 congressional candidate, focused his speech on employment and health insurance.

"We have the most expensive and least efficient health-care system in the industrialized world," Barr said. "One of the reasons why we have companies going overseas is health insurance."

Rendell reported that the state's economy has turned around faster than any state, except for New York, since 2002.

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