Much of that expansion has been made possible by enhancing our justice system.
It costs $34,000 a year to keep a man or woman in prison. That is $34,000 that doesn’t reach our schools, pave our roads, or care for our poor.
While prisons are necessary, they are not necessarily the only answer.
Our Justice Reinvestment Initiative gets eligible offenders out of the system and works to re-introduce them as productive citizens. It also will save us $139 million.
This money is being moved to the “front end” of the justice system - victim services, local policing, county-based offender treatment, improved probation services.
And some of it will be reinvested into our budget, our schools and our communities.
We need to be tough on crime and smarter about preventing it.
Justice Reinvestment does both.
I want to thank you all for working with me to bring about these important changes in the way we address public safety.
In particular, I would like to acknowledge Senator Stewart Greenleaf and Representative Ron Marsico for all their hard work in ensuring Justice Reinvestment became a reality.
Over the past two years, we have worked together to reform and remake Pennsylvania.
We, working together, eliminated a $4.2 billion budget deficit without raising taxes.
We took the first steps toward reforming our tax code to attract new businesses and jobs which has already resulted in more than 100,000 new private sector jobs.
We, working together, Republicans and Democrats, saved the Unemployment Compensation System, saved three refineries, and are close to winning a $4 billion petrochemical plant in the state’s west.
We ended the inheritance tax on family farms, while preserving more farmland.
We passed the most comprehensive environmental and safety regulations on gas drilling in the nation. This progress is even more remarkable when we see what has happened at the federal level.
Washington has driven the nation to the edge of the fiscal cliff and seems intent on keeping us there with its inability, or unwillingness, to address exactly the kinds of issues that we have solved here in Pennsylvania.
We solved our own “fiscal cliff” before it even had a name.
Over the past two years, we have saved the average Pennsylvania, two income family of four, more than $2,500 in state taxes by holding the line on spending.
Meanwhile, the federal government is raising the payroll tax by two percent, costing the average family an additional $1,000 each year.
If we keep faith with one more round of reforms, we can move from a time of recovery to an era of growth and prosperity.
We can make certain that our pension plans are sound and that hard working employees, when they retire, will receive the pensions we promised and they earned.
At the same time, we can free up hundreds of millions of dollars to care for Pennsylvanians in need and to educate our young.
We can begin a program to rebuild our roads and bridges, a program not for this moment alone, but for future generations, so governors and legislators years from now will not face a crumbling infrastructure.