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July 29, 2005


Rep. Mark B. Cohen

Rick Santorum only receives 1.3 cents per Pennsylvanian, yet the national debt, a result of Congressional decision-making, is $35,000 per person, and the war in Iraq alone is now over $6 per person, with large increases likely in the future.

The Pennsylvania legislature annually passes a balanced budget, and has no fiasco remotely similar in per capita cost to the quagmire in Iraq.

The Pennsylvania legislature has played an important role in making Philadelphia a more attractive city, having been a major source of funding for the annual Welcome America Celebrations, the Avenue of the Arts, the Kimmel Center, the Constitution Center, the Convention Center, the Wachovia Center, the stadiums for the Phillies and the Eagles, and the conversion to productive peacetime purposes of the Philadelphia Naval Yard.

The Pennsylvania legislature is responsible for the Paul Vallas-led reform effort in the Philadelphia schools, and Philadelphia charter schools and special disciplinary schools.

The Pennsylvania legislature is largely responsible for Philadelphia's rise from near-bankruptcy in the late 1980's to both tax cuts and a series of budget surpluses in the 1990's and 21st century. The watchdog fiscal agency run successfully by Joe Vignola for many years was a state creation that I helped lead the floor debate to establish.

The Pennsylvania legislature, in short, has played a major role in the successful and continuing transition of Philadelphia from an industrial city to a post-industrial city. Those who have come here because of what our city has to offer should understand that the legislature played a major role in Philadelphia's successful comeback.

The Pennsylvania legislature has been a major source of funding for the continuing expansions of the University of Pennsylvania, Temple, the University of the Sciences, Philadelphia University, and Community College of Philadelphia. Without approval of the Pennsylvania legislature, for-profit colleges, such as Devry University, and the University of Phoenix would never have been permitted in the state.

All this does not mean that Utopia has been achieved. Nor does it mean that Republican majorities in the state house and state senate have been converted to the Democratic philosophy of using governmental powers to help lift up the neediest. But it does mean that the recent flurry of legislature-bashing editorials, newspaper columns, and blog posts is both extreme and unwarranted.


Rep. Cohen,

While the state legislature may have passed the bills you mentioned please remember that the money you are spending did not come out of your pocket alone, but from all PA taxpayers.

While you are to be congratulated for supporting the higher education system in the state, you are hardly the first legislature in the state to do this and I wonder what would have happened if you had announced you had no intention of continuing to support it.

Saying you work hard merely puts you in the same category as teachers (and I think more than a few of your colleagues have questioned raises for them), unionized construction workers (ditto), and a large majority of the voters in this state. You are simply NOT working THAT much harder than any of the rest of us, who are NOT getting such large raises.

Saying you deserve more because you are in public service and could earn more in the private sector puts you in the same boat as every legal aid attorney and assistant district attorney in the state, the same boat as doctors and nurses who work in clinics, med students who go into internal medicine instead of a higher paying specialty, most of those who work for nonprofits, every nurse in the state, every librarian in the state, and many many more.

So it is not that I think aren't working hard it's that I don't think you are working HARDER than anyone else. And the blogs and columns you are seeing are hardly extremist. I've seen far more vitriolic language come through my mailbox on political mailings.

Ruqayyah Williams-Bey

I would like to comment on the disappearance of Latoyia. My heart goes out to the family of Latoyia I wish them blesses on finding her. I don't know her but it is not a day that goes by that I don't think of her I break my neck to get home to see the news and pray that I'll hear good news about her. I wanted to comment because I feel as though if Latoyia is not found with a month would I be wrong to suggest maybe Mr. Melvin should get a physic to determine where is Latoyia and is she still alive. I know alot of people do not believe physics or maybe they believe what I and alot of Christains believe we should not know what our future hold. But I know Mr. Melvin is desperate like I would be and my want to know badly. Having faith is a important, but knowing where Latoyia is at is also important and hey a physic may lead us to her faster then what we think. Hey Slyia may help us please think on it Mr. Melvin this is today major topic that needs to be solved as soon as possible.

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