McKeesport, January 9, 2013 – State Sen. Jim Brewster has been re-appointed Democratic chairman of the Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee. In addition, Brewster was appointed to the Committees on Transportation, Banking and Insurance, Community Economic and Recreational Development, and Game and Fisheries.

“I will continue to use the position on the Urban Affairs and Housing Committee to focus on issues and challenges facing struggling cities and towns in the Mon Valley and throughout our state,” Brewster said. “We must do more to help smaller cities attract new businesses, investment and jobs.

“I am determined to steer more of the state’s effort to help expanding businesses partner with cities and adjacent suburban communities to revitalize and breathe new economic life into our mill towns.”

Brewster and his fellow Democrats last month announced their “Growth, Progress & Sustainability” (GPS) plan for Pennsylvania’s communities. The plan will focus legislative attention on improving the fiscal climate for local governments by reforming the state’s financial distress program (Act 47) and stepping up local tax reform efforts. Furthermore, the plan will develop a sound investment strategy in addressing economic development, public safety and infrastructure needs of local government.

After winning a special election to replace Senator Sean Logan, the former Mayor of McKeesport has used his business experience of 27 years in the Banking industry and 25 years in local government to maneuver his way through a tumultuous 24 months, which included an historic rebuttal of the Republican-controlled redistricting effort that he said would deprive the citizens of Western Pennsylvania representation in Harrisburg. Brewster’s refusal to accept what he called an obscene process, and his effort to mount what many others said was unachievable, with the help of others, has thus far convinced the state Supreme Court to deny moving the 45th district to the Pocono Mountain area.

“My goal in the next 18 months is to focus on transportation and education issues. These are expensive budget items that require listening to the will of the people,” Brewster said. “For example, once a transportation strategy and legislation is approved, who will prioritize the projects to ensure that all Pennsylvanians will benefit without political influence?”

With regard to education, Brewster said an egregious attack by the Corbett administration on public education resulted in local school taxes being raised in 70 percent of the 500 public school districts. Brewster said he is more determined than ever, regardless of party affiliation, to ensure that education reform is done to benefit all, including private, charter and cyber schools. Because education touches all families and the impact of that process affects millions of young people and the productivity of our state, he said it is important that education reform does not result in winners and losers.

“This administration took a pledge not to raise taxes, and many Pennsylvanians are paying more in local school taxes as a direct result of a poorly designed education reform program,” Brewster said. “The goal of having choice of schools is available today and certainly can be made more available, and I am committed to making sure that there’s a level playing field as it relates to standardized testing, teacher evaluation, certification, and funding, to name a few.”

Brewster was sworn in to another four-year term on January 1. He was first elected to the Senate in 2010.

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