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April 1, 2011

Insights from the Constituent Work Week

[Page: H2113]  GPO's PDF 

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The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Barletta) for 5 minutes.

Mr. BARLETTA. Madam Speaker, I rise today to share with my colleagues in the House what my neighbors at home shared with me during the past constituent work week. Throughout the week I heard from small business owners, local officials, university leaders, teachers, students, Rotarians, and a Purple Heart National Guardsman about the issues facing Pennsylvania's 11th Congressional District. Although the voices were different, the message was the same. We need to get our economy back on track.

[Page: H2114]  GPO's PDF

Last week I spoke at the Rotary Club in my hometown of Hazleton about the debt crisis crippling our Nation. The Rotarians were engaged, attentive, and concerned about the spending habits of Washington.

Madam Speaker, I let them know that we have a debt crisis in this country, not because Washington taxes too little, but because Washington spends too much. For far too long, the Federal Government has overspent, overtaxed, and over-borrowed. That stops now.

If we are serious about our economic prosperity, we must cut wasteful spending in favor of investments proven to work. Last week I visited the SHINE 21st Century After-School Program at Panther Valley Elementary School in Nesquehoning. Located in 10 schools in Carbon and Schuylkill Counties, SHINE is a data-driven, rural education model designed to provide academic enrichment to at-risk students. I commend Jeanne Miller, Director of the SHINE Program, and Lehigh-Carbon Community College for partnering together to benefit pre-service teachers and, more importantly, some of our region's most deserving students. Like the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, the SHINE model stands out as a program that works.

As a member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, I will continue to examine how education at all levels is preparing students for careers. I was privileged last week to welcome Chairman Kline and the House Education and the Workforce Committee to Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre for a field hearing on the role of higher education in job growth and development. Witnesses from Wilkes University, Empire Beauty School, Luzerne County Community College, and Lackawanna Junior College demonstrated firsthand how northeast Pennsylvania is taking strides to provide quality higher education.

Additionally, Chairman Kline and I met with and read to a kindergarten class at Riverside Elementary East in Moosic. The reception we received from all of the students was unbelievable, and I couldn't be more appreciative of the students, teachers, and school administrators for putting such a fantastic visit together.

Also, last week I welcomed Chairman Mica, Subcommittee Chairman Shuster, and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to Scranton for a listening session on the future of our roads and infrastructure. The listening session helped me and other members of the committee gain a greater level of insight from local leaders with expertise and real world experience in transportation and infrastructure policy. During the listening session, we spoke about job creation, heard some examples of burdensome regulation, listened to ideas about cost-effective maintenance plans, and were briefed on public-private partnerships as new ways to build and repair Pennsylvania's roads and bridges.

Madam Speaker, the challenges we face in our district are great, but they are not unique. My friends and neighbors in Pennsylvania's 11th Congressional District are hardworking people, and I will continue to bring their voices to Washington throughout the 112th Congress.

Finally, Madam Speaker, in closing, I would like to note that we're all here today, free to talk and debate, because of the brave men and women serving in our Armed Forces. I was humbled and honored this week to attend the Purple Heart medal presentation in Hazleton to Pennsylvania Army National Guard Sergeant First Class John Leonard.

Sergeant Leonard was injured in an IED explosion in Iraq in February. It is men and women like Sergeant Leonard who make me proud to be standing freely in this House Chamber today.

(House of Representatives - March 31, 2011)

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