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Chester County Press

State government needs financial responsibility

10/29/2014 08:22PM ● By Lev

John Lawrence

State Representative 13th Legislative District

Next Tuesday is Election Day, and I am running for a third term to serve as your State Representative.  As a lifelong resident of our area and the father of two young daughters, I am running because I am deeply concerned about the future of Pennsylvania and our community.  

When I ran for office four years ago, I spoke about the need for financial responsibility in state government.  Since then, I helped to pass four on-time, responsible, balanced state budgets.  I also stood up to the leaders of my own party and the governor in voting against billions in new borrowing and spending for pet projects, and worked to pass legislation into law that cut the ability of the legislature to borrow more money against our children’s future.  I’ve led by example, posting the expenses of the district office online for anyone to review in an effort to be accountable to you. 

When I ran for office four years ago, I talked about the importance of education funding, and the need to address rising school property taxes.  I promised to tackle property taxes in every way possible, and I have kept this promise.  I was one of 59 out of 203 to vote “yes” to abolish school property taxes and move towards a sales and income tax based model for education funding.  I sponsored legislation that passed the state House unanimously to direct all revenue from casino table games directly to property tax relief.  In addition, I helped pass the law that gives taxpayers a vote via referendum on school tax hikes over the rate of inflation, and put forth my own proposal to significantly cut property taxes for low income seniors.  While many pay lip-service to this important issue, I have a record of putting workable proposals on the table and gathering support to move the ball forward.  

Four years ago, I promised to be accountable to you for my actions as a legislator, and to be a voice of reform in a state Capitol building that has recently seen legislators from both parties go to prison for corruption.  Since then, I have been outspoken about the need to clean up Harrisburg, and led by example to show I’m serious - declining a taxpayer funded pension, a state car, state paid cell phone, per-diem payments, etc.  I’ve sponsored legislation to move Pennsylvania back to a part-time legislature, and voted twice to cut the size of the House of Representatives by twenty five percent.  I’ve called for the abolishment of the patronage-laden Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, which I frequently refer to as a “playground of corruption.”  These positions do not always make me popular with other legislators, but there are a growing number in Harrisburg that are challenging the old-guard mentality of perks and patronage.

I also recognize that you are my boss, and it is my job to be accessible and responsive to the needs of everyone in the district regardless of party affiliation.  With this goal in mind, I held more than three dozen town halls over the past few years, with at least two in every township or borough in the district.  These town halls usually last two hours or more, and end only when everyone has had a chance to speak and get their questions answered.  I meet several times a year with the Citizens Advisory Board to gauge their feelings on legislation before the General Assembly.  And the Jennersville district office has assisted many thousands of residents with issues related to state government, bringing resolution to many difficult situations.

There are many other issues facing Pennsylvania; to mention just a few:  I’ve been a leading advocate to get the state out of the alcohol business and abolish the state store system.  I’ve voted to reinstate funding for farmland preservation, and voted to impose an impact fee on Marcellus shale gas drilling that has brought in over half a billion dollars for environmental protection and infrastructure.  I was part of a team that drafted and passed comprehensive child protection reforms to ensure our kids are safe from predators, and I worked with folks from both sides of the aisle to enact meaningful tax reform for small business owners and farmers.          

As Nov. 4 approaches, I ask you for your vote so I can continue to serve you and the community we share in the state Capitol.  My commitment to you is that, if reelected, I will continue to represent our area with humility and integrity while tackling the important issues facing Pennsylvania.  Thank you for the opportunity to serve.