Rival candidates tout smaller state government | News, Sports, Jobs
Ann Kaufman and Jamie Flick, candidates for the Republican nomination for a local seat in the state House, agree: Harrisburg spends too much money and has too much power.
“It’s out of hand,” Flick said, specifically of the state’s budget. “It needs to be cut.”
Flick noted the budget has doubled in the past decade and that he could not find a single family whose spending doubled in 10 years.
While Flick said he supports safety net programs, he believes they need to be better managed.
“There are people jumping into the safety net,” he said.
“It’s out of control,” Kaufman said of the budget.
She noted money being transferred from the state Department of Transportation to subsidize state police while roads and bridges are crumbling. She said the state needs better management practices and to determine where it will see the most return on expenditures.
“We should be looking at investing the money rather than spending it,” she said.
Kaufman also bemoaned the state’s corporate tax rate — the highest in the nation — as an obstacle to job creation in rural Pennsylvania as it discourages businesses from locating in the state. She said both the corporate tax rate and red tape — bureaucratic requirements and limitations — are “certainly hindering job growth.”
He said the corporate tax rate “stifles growth” and that potential employers are wary about coming to Pennsylvania in part because of it and instead “go to West Virginia, go to Ohio.”
Flick also cited the challenge of red tape, comparing how long it takes to get permits in Pennsylvania with shorter and smoother processes in Texas and other states.
Flick believes more thorough development of the natural gas industry will both foster job creation in rural Pennsylvania.
“I’m very much pro-drilling,” Flick said.
“We have enough natural gas below our feet to not only make the U.S. energy independent, but be a dominant force in energy, and there is no reason we shouldn’t be harnessing that natural gas … and exporting it,” Kaufman said.
Flick noted jobs in the natural gas industry create a workforce that can then spend on other goods and services, trickling down to create jobs in other industries and sectors — all generating revenues to provide property tax relief.
“Nobody should be forced out of a home they own because of property taxes,” Kaufman said.
She called on the state to reform its approach to property tax relief and to emphasize local control by municipalities, which “know what’s best” for their residents.
Kaufman also told the Sun-Gazette that she not only wants to see more opportunities for public schools but home-schooling, private education and parochial schools and vocational training as well. She said Pennsylvania needs to get away from a “one-size-fits-all” mentality on education.
“Schools need to be held accountable for how money is being spent,” Kaufman said.
Flick said teachers’ unions have a disproportionate influence on policy because of campaign spending and touted his own approach.
“I’ve pledged, at the beginning, to take no money, not just from the teachers’ union, no money from any special interest group, no money from any lobbyist … not even a local business … I’m just saying I can’t be bought,” he said.
Kaufman told the Sun-Gazette that the economy, along with energy and education, was among her top priorities.
“I think if we can get the economy back on track, get our spending under control, reduce taxes, we’ll see job growth increase,” she said.
Along with the corporate tax rate, lowering the state’s inheritance tax and gasoline taxes are among Flick’s top priorities, especially in considering the condition of roads and bridges despite one of the highest gas taxes in the nation.
Flick also said improving transparency is a priority, as Pennsylvania is consistently ranked one of the five most corrupt state governments.
“Thank God for Illinois, that we have somebody that beats us,” he said.
Kaufman and Flick are both natives of Lycoming County.
Kaufman is a life-long resident who previously worked in her family’s Loyalsock Township funeral home, before working for U.S. Reps. Tom Marino, R-Cogan Station and Fred Keller, R-Kreamer. She now manages the three district offices for Keller.
“I work on behalf of the constituents of the 12th congressional district every day,” she said.
Flick grew up on a farm in the Nippenose Valley with five brothers, “where he learned his work ethic.” He founded and runs a software company on Reach Road and has been involved in a number of civic organizations and initiatives.