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Regardless of political affiliation, I think we can all agree the next governor of Pennsylvania has some work to do to restore our Commonwealth to its economic potential. Whether you think it was caused by the pandemic, poor leadership, or a combination of the two, arguing about why we are here doesn’t change the fact that we are here, and that changes are necessary for long-term sustainability and growth.

While we tend to follow the people who are good at getting our emotions stirred up, this type of person, in my opinion, is not who would be best as our next governor. Our next governor needs to be someone who provides stable leadership with humility and integrity, speaks truth graciously, and isn’t motivated by the position of power. They need to be willing to listen to Pennsylvanians all across the state and make difficult decisions that are for the betterment of the Commonwealth, not necessarily their political career.

These thoughts are some of my opinions and I share them in hope of starting a conversation. In my opinion, the next governor should at least focus on these three things: promoting long-term sustainability in our economy, agriculture, and our energy production. The location of Pennsylvania is very strategic to accomplishing each of these.

Being located on the east coast we fit between national government in Washington, DC and national finance in New York City with several of our nation’s major highways making their way through our state. This allows for the distribution of goods to easily flow in, out, and through our Commonwealth. This strategic position gives us a major potential advantage for businesses to operate here, which would provide jobs and stimulate economic growth. The promotion of economic opportunity is one of the key responsibilities of our next governor. When businesses are encouraged to operate here, jobs are created for Pennsylvanians to earn more income, which we then spend money in our communities and as a result, our economy is stimulated.

The other method of economic improvement is through our tourism industry. Pennsylvania has so much to offer in the way of history and entertainment for people outside of our state. When tourists visit our state, they spend money here which supports our local businesses and brings more revenue into our state. For businesses to move to Pennsylvania or tourists to visit, there needs to be proper infrastructure in place for the efficient flow of people and goods. A proper focus on infrastructure is important to the growth of our economy. Another important part is the promotion of financial incentives for businesses to operate in Pennsylvania and be competitive with other states and even countries. We may not all agree on the how, but I think we can all agree on the need for attracting more businesses to our state.

One final way to stimulate the economy is by promoting opportunities for entrepreneurship within our state. Encouraging entrepreneurial-minded Pennsylvanians as they desire to start their businesses brings innovation and growth from within our great state.

In addition to Pennsylvania being in a strategic location for economic growth, we also have access to many natural resources for energy sustainability. According to the EIA, Pennsylvania produces energy from coal, natural gas, crude oil, and nuclear power. As seen in recent events, a proper diversification of energy production and implementation is important to the sustainability of a state. While new and innovative methods for energy generation should be a part of our growth, we cannot abandon the current resources we have that provide energy and jobs to Pennsylvanians.

Our state also needs to focus on the long-term sustainability of our agricultural industry. From small crop farms to large egg and dairy operations, our Commonwealth is the provider of food to many major cities within and around our state.

Promoting legislation that allows our agricultural industry, no matter the size of the operation, to flourish is critical to the long-term sustainability of our food supply. We may not have the sprawling acres that are found in the mid-west, but our location to market is one of our critical advantages, proving again our need for a focus on infrastructure. In addition to the farm operations, there are several food processing facilities found in our state that provide food that feeds not only our state but our nation and world.

While the economic recovery and growth, energy sustainability, and a stable food supply, in my opinion, are top priorities for the next governor there is certainly more to be done. During this pandemic and not just in our state, but in many states around our great country, we saw confusion as to the use of emergency powers. The next governor will need to work with state legislators to clearly define the use and purpose of emergency powers. I think NCSL (National Conference of State Legislatures) summed it up well when addressing legislative oversight of emergency executive powers.

“Although governors need to be able to respond to emergencies quickly, legislatures have an important role in making sure these powers are not abused and that they do not undermine the separation of powers vital to our democratic system of government.”

National Conference of State Legislatures
Legislative Oversight of Emergency Executive Powers

Our great state has so much more to offer. Some of the responsibility to reach that potential lies on us as residents of the Commonwealth to do our part, some of it falls on our local and state government, but the next governor needs to be the one who leads with a passion for the Commonwealth and its people, along with humility and respect for the responsibility.