- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 21, 2003

HARRISBURG, Pa., Jan. 21 (UPI) — Ed Rendell became the 45th governor of Pennsylvania Tuesday, and the first to come from Philadelphia in more than a century.

On a bitterly cold day outside the state Capitol, Rendell outlined the "daunting challenges" facing the state, including a potential $2 billion deficit, a declining young work force, the burden of property taxes and a limping economy.

Rendell, a Democrat, was sworn in by his wife, Midge Rendell, a federal judge, with departing Gov. Mark Schweiker and former Gov. Tom Ridge, both Republicans, and Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., looking on.

In his 20-minute speech Rendell said, "We face a state budget deficit that looms as one of the worst in the modern history of Pennsylvania, one that could reach $2 billion or more for the next fiscal year."

Despite efforts of previous administrations to avoid fiscal trouble, Rendell said, "The economy has not recovered, and it's time to pay the piper. And paying the piper will mean short-term pain which, if we are willing to endure, will surely lead to long-term gain."

Rendell served two terms as mayor of Philadelphia in which he came head-to-head with the public service unions and made innovations that pulled that city out of crisis. He then became chief fund-raiser for the National Democratic party.

He entered the governor's race promising change and during his speech repeatedly set goals, and asked, "Why not?"

He said one thing hindering Pennsylvania's progress was the flight of young people to other areas because they can't find jobs at home. Rendell said the state has lost 80,000 jobs in the last two years and the state's economy now ranks 48th out of 50.

"If we fail to adequately invest in our children" through education and jobs, said Rendell, 59, "then we will only succeed in purchasing Pennsylvania's economic failure on the installment plan."

Rendell's inauguration was followed by a parade, and a night of dancing to the likes of Chubby Checker, and one of Rendell's trademarks — plenty of food.

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