When it comes to state’s biggest issue, House candidates vary
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Throughout the election season, candidates for the 12th Congress and the 83rd and 84th state House seats will be polled about issues pertinent to the voters. Their responses will appear on Sundays in the Sun-Gazette. We begin today with candidates seeking state House seats in November.)
Both the 84th and the 83rd state House seats have races in the Nov. 6 general election.
Candidates for the 84th House seat are incumbent Garth Everett, a Republican, and Linda Sosniak, a Democrat. Much of that district is in Lycoming County and includes Montoursville, Muncy, Hughesville, Picture Rocks, Salladasburg, Jersey Shore and the townships of Anthony, Bastress, Brady, Brown, Cascade, Cogan House, Cummings, Eldred, Fairfield, Franklin, Gamble, Hepburn, Jackson, Jordan, Lewis, Limestone, McHenry, McIntyre, McNett, Mifflin, Mill Creek, Moreland, Muncy, Muncy Creek, Nippenose, Penn, Piatt, Pine, Plunketts Creek, Porter, Shrewsbury, Upper Fairfield, Washington, Watson and Wolf. It also includes Gregg and White Deer townships in Union County.
The 83rd state House candidates are incumbent Jeff Wheeland, a Republican, and Airneezer Page, a Democrat. That district includes the city, South Williamsport, DuBoistown, Montgomery, and the townships of Loyalsock, Old Lycoming, Armstrong, Clinton, Susquehanna and Woodward.
What is the single biggest issue facing the state and what can be done to fix it?
Everett: “The single biggest issue is jobs and how best to position Pennsylvania to be employer-friendly and create the right climate, particularly small businesses. Everyone focuses on the big companies. Small businesses are what make the economy run, not the big corporations. It’s gotten more complicated to open a business and expand a business than it should be. I think we just need to be more cognizant on the regulatory side. There are rules we have to follow, but it’s almost impossible for a small business person to be compliant. We could reduce regulations and make it easier for small businesses. Our tax climate is always rated one of the worst in the country for small businesss and businesses in general. Pennsylvania is rated in the bottom 10 of places to establish a business. Our workers compensation program is one of the most expensive in the country. We need tort reform. When you add up all these little issues it dissuades folks from coming here. Secondary education, while good, could be better. We are slow to adapt to change. We need to change our focus on the idea that everyone needs a four-year degree. We need better trained workers and more technical training. The number one complaint from many employers is finding people who want to work and can pass a drug test. In four-year colleges we need more of the STEM education. We just need a better job climate.”
Sosniak: “One of the main issues facing the state is the financial crisis for education. Because the schools are unable to balance their budgets, property taxes are going up. People on fixed incomes have a hard time. It’s an issue we need to address. I believe that public education is very important, and we need to look at other options. One of the ideas I have been looking at is fixing the corporate net income tax in Pennsylvania. At 9.9 percent, that’s the second highest in the country. Seventy-two percent of corporations in the state pay no tax. They use the Delaware Tax loophole and don’t pay tax on their income here in Pennsylvania. Local businesses are paying the majority of that tax. If we could lower the corporate net income tax to 6.5 percent and get rid of the loophole and prevent corporations from skipping out paying their fair share, it would generate as much as $400 to $600 million in additional revenue.”
Wheeland: “I believe it is setting up the Commonwealth to be competitive with other states. We have to be competitive with everything from taxation to regulations. When I was a county commissioner working with the chamber of commerce to work with other states, it was clear we weren’t competitive enough. When we attract business and industry we can reverse the stagnant population trend in Pennsylvania. We can retain our young people and stop the brain drain.”
Page: “Right now, the single biggest issue is the opioid epidemic. You don’t hear about it unless you have numerous overdoses occurring at one time. We as a community need to get a handle on it. We need to open up drug clinics to treat people. We just need to make sure we have the funding and to allocate it judiciously in order to put a stop to the drug problem. Health care is important to everyone. You need to treat people and educate people on the pitfalls and the downfall of drugs and who is responsible for it. We do have task forces fighting it, but nothing is ever resolved.”