Since January, when I decided to run for Pennsylvania House District 102, I’ve been spending a lot of time listening to people in the district about what is important to them.
Politicians often frame things as being a stark black-and-white contrast: a binary choice between A or B, with no in-between. But my goal is to create a community where we can have in-depth discussions, despite our disagreements, and hopefully arrive at a solution that is agreeable to all – or at least most – of the constituents in the 102.
One example right now is the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re presented with two options: stay in your homes and never leave, or resume normal life with no precautions. Asking people to stay home is unsustainable for any extended length of time. But opening up with no safeguards damages businesses as well. People are more reluctant to go out when they feel their health is at risk.
But this pandemic isn’t an either/or situation. We can take commonsense personal actions (wearing a mask, washing our hands, and watching our distance) and combine those with community actions (testing, quarantining, contact tracing) to achieve the best of both worlds: protecting our community health while businesses resume their activities with some modifications.
Many Pennsylvanians are also concerned about school property taxes. Again, this issue gets framed as either (a) complete elimination or (b) taxes that continually spiral upwards. If elimination were an easy solution, it would have been done by now. But what if we could reduce the local school property tax burden, providing some relief to property owners, while still leaving some local control over our schools?
To do this, we need to increase the state’s share of education costs. One solution: tax income from wages and interest at a rate of 2.8% (lower than the current rate of 3.07%) and all other income, such as capital gains, at a rate of 6.5%. This would generate at least $2 billion of additional revenue that could be used for education. Likewise, closing the Delaware loophole so that corporations operating in Pennsylvania pay their fair share could raise $600 million in new revenue. Many local school districts are currently paying 60% or more of their educational costs. More funding from the state could reduce the local taxes, while still providing high quality public education to our students.
These are just two examples from the conversations I’ve had with people in the 102. Some of you will agree with me, some will disagree. Others may want more details, or fewer. But if we can start to have discussions about innovative approaches to our common problems, we may actually accomplish something to help Lebanon County.
There is one choice that definitely is an either/or, though: who will represent you in the PA House for District 102. I hope you’ll consider me.