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New "GPS" program aims to help struggling PA cities

Written by Megan Lello and Radio Pennsylvania | Dec 29, 2012 8:51 AM

(Harrisburg) -- Some state lawmakers have come up with a plan to help transform struggling cities across the commonwealth.

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Senate Democrats have unveiled the so-called "Growth, Progress, and Sustainability," or "GPS," initiative at a public hearing in Harrisburg.

Senator John Wozniak says the program's designed to be a road map for cities, and will reach out to local leaders to help build up economic development, rebuild the local tax base, and cut down on crime.

Wozniak says third-class cities in particular have been having trouble for a while. "A lot of people think that this is a recent occurrence, but I think you would see the decline of our third-class cities began after the Second World War: the ubiquity of the automobile, the development of the suburbs. Our cities are now older, poorer, and they are challenged."

He says the program aims to identify long-term solutions to cities' economic and social problems, and not just come up with short-term fixes.

Harrisburg and Reading are third-class cities that have entered into Act 47 financial recovery programs to help improve their finances.

Senator Judy Schwank says GPS would help address the fiscal issues of these cities, since she believes an Act 47 program by itself won't solve all the cities' problems.

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