State, local tax reform

Two candidates will face off in the state’s 84th House District in the Nov. 8 general election.

Incumbent Rep. Garth Everett, R-Muncy, has held the office for six years. A lawyer, he previously was solicitor for a number of county townships and boroughs. He also is an Air Force veteran who attained the rank of lieutenant colonel.

He is being challenged by Chris Hughes, of Montoursville, who is running as a write-in candidate. He is the owner of Fat Cat Vapor and previously was president of the state chapter of the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association.

The 84th Legislative District encompasses all of Lycoming County except for  the city; the boroughs of DuBoistown, Montgomery and South Williamsport; and Armstrong, Clinton, Loyalsock, Old Lycoming, Susquehanna and Woodward townships. The district also includes Gregg Township and White Deer Township in Union County.

Q. Do you support state and local tax reform, and how would you ease the burden on average taxpayers?

Hughes: “Yes. I think the duty of government rather than picking winners and losers in the economy is to get out of the way of business and to seek out policies that encourage outside businesses to come into Pennsylvania.”

He cited the example of $20.6 million in unspecified funding “secured” by the governor for a corporation to remodel a headquarters building.

“So my take from that is, if you have to bribe large giant corporations … to do business in the state, then you’re doing it all wrong.

“I think eliminating the income tax in the state would be a huge draw for out-of-state businesses to relocate here. We already have terrific people here with a great work ethic … we have a terrific labor force around here that is being under utilized right now, in part because of the loss of so much of the gas industry.

“I think the state government really needs to look at ways to promote business growth, rather than business extinction.”

Everett: “It depends which taxpayer you’re talking about and which taxes you’re talking about and where that money is going. …

“There is property tax and tax reform issues we could do in Pennsylvania, but if you lower the property tax burden on (one group) that just means that another group of citizens is going to have to pick up that tax burden. …

“In some areas of the state, it’s a very hot issue, where school districts really are jumping property taxes up. In some parts of the state, it’s not even an issue. It’s not the No. 1 issue that I hear about.

“People say we need to reform our income tax structure in Pennsylvania, and I think they have that confused with our federal tax structure. The income tax in Pennsylvania is a flat 3.07 percent tax. It’s not a complicated system. Now, the federal tax system is immensely complicated and needs reformed. But in Pennsylvania we have as simple a tax system as there could be.

“It’s in our (state) Constitution, it doesn’t say what the tax should be, but it has to be a flat tax across the board. Constitutions can be changed … but I don’t think it needs to change. It may need to be bumped up at some point. I’m not an advocate for that, but I’m a realist.”