Lots of talk, little action
By Ann Schott
Representative Lawrence’s Sept. 24 column in the Chester County Press somehow managed to use the word “I” 40 times.
This exemplifies the problem we have in Harrisburg – far too much “I,” and too little “we.” Any coach, manager, or leader will tell you that real victories come from cooperation and collaboration; in other words, there is no “I” in “team.”
Mr. Lawrence’s tone might be a reason that, after five campaigns and four years in office, we have yet to see real progress on issues that are central to residents of Southern Chester County. For example, Mr. Lawrence goes to great lengths to discuss his interest in reducing and reforming property taxes, yet property taxes have risen steadily – statewide and in our community – since Mr. Lawrence and Tom Corbett took office in 2010. Isn’t that the standard we ought to be concerned with?
Of course, the reason for rising local property taxes is plain: Over the past four years, the state has essentially abandoned its commitment to public education. Since my opponent took office, state education funding for the 13th State House District has been reduced by more than $9.4 million, including a $2.2 million cut in Oxford and a $2.5 million loss for Avon Grove. In both districts, these cuts amount to losses of more than $480 per student.
Considering these facts, it is regrettable that Mr. Lawrence claims that he “stood up to the Governor’s proposed education cuts.” The record is clear: Mr. Lawrence voted for all four state budgets that enacted those cuts. He didn’t stand up; he went along.
On other topics, Mr. Lawrence uses more than 1,000 words to detail countless proposals and bills that he has “introduced” – language that confuses raising issues with actually solving them. Whatever your party affiliation, you must agree that my opponent had a golden opportunity to enact reforms with Republicans controlling the Governor’s mansion, the Senate, and the House. Instead, he appears to have crafted an unrealistic wish list that is largely untouched.
As a 30-year educator, I graded countless term papers and marked thousands of report cards. I like to think my grading was fair – not too harsh, not too easy; holding to clear standards, but allowing for some flexibility because students show their work and skills in different ways.
Sadly, in my judgment, Mr. Lawrence earns a weak grade for his four years representing our community. He doesn't seem to work well with others, even members of his own party. He is careless with facts. And he does not stick to the most important issues. Our community deserves better.
As your State Representative, I will fight to deliver real, lasting, and statewide property tax relief by making politically difficult but necessary votes.
As your servant in Harrisburg, restoring education funding will be a chief focus – both because it is vital to reducing property taxes, and because it is a moral imperative to give our young people every chance for success in a challenging economy.
Finally, my approach will be that of a citizen legislator. I will work to reform Harrisburg, close the door on lobbyists, and reject the inappropriate use of taxpayer funds for promotional events that has become an unfortunate hallmark of my opponent’s tenure.
This is my pledge to you.
On Nov. 4, you get to ask yourself the only question that really counts in this race: Is Pennsylvania on the right track? If you think the answer is “yes,” my opponent certainly deserves your support. However, if you think we can make more significant progress, more quickly, I would be honored to have your vote. It has been a tremendous privilege to serve this community as an educator and civic leader; I would be humbled by the chance to serve you again, in Harrisburg.
Ann Schott is the Democratic nominee for State Representative in the 13th District. For more information, visit www.annforpa.com.