Running in the Republican primary for the 94th House District are incumbent state Rep. Stan Saylor, R-Windsor Township, and Red Lion council president Kelly Henshaw.
Whoever wins the election is almost assured to win the November election since no Democrats are currently running for the seat.
Henshaw, 56, is a lifelong resident of Red Lion, owns Austin Graphics and is the sexton at Bethany United Methodist Church in Red Lion.
Saylor, also 56, was first elected to the state House in 1992. Since then, Saylor has gone on to be elected Republican majority whip by his party's peers.
The York Dispatch asked the candidates a series of questions. Their answers appear below.
The 94th District includes Chanceford, East Hopewell, Fawn, Hopewell, Lower Chanceford, Lower Windsor, North Hopewell, Peach Bottom, Windsor townships and part of York Township. It also includes Cross Roads, Delta, East Prospect, Fawn Grove, Felton, Red Lion, Stewartstown, Windsor, Winterstown and Yorkana.
1. What measures should the state Legislature take to improve Pennsylvania's economy and help create more jobs in the Commonwealth?
Henshaw: Pennsylvania has the second-highest corporate tax in not just the United States but the civilized world. The Legislature needs to reduce this amount. Also, the Legislature needs to make Pennsylvania a "right to work" state.
Cited on the website chiefexecutive.net, it is stated that Pennsylvania is ranked 39 out of 50, states that are favorable for locating a business (ranked No. 1 Texas being the best). More than 500 CEOs considered a wide range of criteria, from taxation and regulation to work force quality and living environment to come up with the data. Pennsylvania has dropped from 32 in 2010, and will continue to drop unless these issues are addressed.
I plan to talk with CEOs from corporations and find out how best we can attract and retain their businesses.
Saylor: The business climate in Pennsylvania is crushing job creation. I have introduced and passed legislation that has helped create jobs in Pennsylvania. Gov. Corbett has adopted some of my ideas into his 2012-13 proposed budget.
Pennsylvania has got to be competitive in the global markets, for we are not just competing against other states for jobs but other countries as well. We must reduce the burdensome regulations and red tape on businesses. Pennsylvania has the highest business taxes of all other states and higher than Germany and Japan. We have to reduce business taxes to make us more competitive.
We need to become a right to work state and eliminate prevailing wage laws in Pennsylvania. Improving our infrastructure is critical to job creation by repairing our highways and bridges to sewer and water projects as well, which will improve Pennsylvania's competitiveness.
2. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation can point to a large backlog of road and bridge projects across the state. How dire are Pa.'s transportation needs? And how should it fund those backlogged projects?
Henshaw: Our roads and bridges are in dire condition and need to be the only focus to our transportation needs. We can not afford so-called Green Transportation projects such as bike paths and plug-in areas for electric cars paid for by your tax dollars.
We also need to eliminate prevailing wage which drives up these road and bridge projects by up to 30 percent.
Saylor: It is critical that Pennsylvania increase funding for highway and bridge maintenance and new construction. They are an important part of improving our economy and creating jobs.
We have more miles of state highways than the New England states, Maryland, New Jersey and New York combined. Here in York County, we have experienced tremendous growth over the last 30 years. This has given us congested highways and very narrow roads where it is hard for a school bus or tractor-trailer to pass a car going in different directions. It is also important to improve our rail system to help control the number of tractor-trailers on our roads.
We just passed legislation to allow Private Public Partnerships (P-3s), where private investment will be allowed to build roads. These projects can mean new highways or express lanes added to our interstates that would be tolled to use them as has been the case in other states.
New funding could come from using the current 6 percent sales tax on the motor vehicles and putting those funds into transportation funding.
3. With a focus on highway safety, state government has adopted new rules for teen drivers and a texting ban for everyone in the past year. Are more measures along those lines needed? Would you support a ban on handheld cell phones? A helmet requirement for motorcyclists? Why or why not?
Henshaw: More research needs to be done on these issues. We must not hastily institute such bans without looking at the way in which they will be enforced.
One thing that I won't do is to pass such legislation just to look busy. If we look at Pennsylvania highway statistics, we see that according to PennDOT, last year's traffic fatalities were the second-lowest on record.
Saylor: I support the texting ban and would support a ban on handheld cell phones as well.
The current helmet law is fine as it is written. It requires education and training to be allowed to not wear a helmet on Pennsylvania roads.
4. Residents have long complained about property taxes, though in recent years, Act 1 has succeeded in stemming the rapid increase in school property taxes. Does the state need property tax reform? Why or why not? And, if so, how would you approach the issue? Should property tax relief be restricted to homesteads (a homeowner's primary place of residence) or provided for all property owners? Why?
Henshaw: We can't just address how we fund schools and what kind of tax shift is needed. One of the problems that schools face is many unfunded mandates. The biggest one is that of the mandated pension system -- which my opponent, Stan Saylor, voted to increase by 51 percent along with all state employees including his own.
This puts a heavy burden on school districts who must decide whether to furlough teachers, increase class size, cut programs or raise taxes to balance the budget. We must address these problems with the system and put in place a new pension system for new employees that would be a 401K type of pension system.
The elimination of prevailing wage will also help with saving up to 30 percent on building projects within school districts.
With this in mind, I would support a tax shift to a consumption tax to fund our schools and do away with property tax.
Saylor: Pennsylvania not only needs property tax reform, but property tax elimination. Next to job creation, it is one of my top priorities. I have introduced legislation and co-sponsored several House bills to reform or eliminate property taxes. HB 2230 and HB 1776 are good bills.
Retired senior citizens who paid off their mortgages years ago so they would be ready for their retirement are now still paying a mortgage known as property taxes. The truth is property taxes are not the way we should be paying to fund education in today's world.
We also need to change the school funding formula. That is why I joined a lawsuit against the state asking the Commonwealth Court to declare the state funding formula unconstitutional.
5. State funding for education, and especially higher education, has declined under the Corbett administration. Do you agree or disagree with the approach the administration has taken toward education funding? Explain your answer. What changes would you recommend in terms of funding education?
Henshaw: Funding for basic education has improved under Gov. Corbett. In this year's proposed budget, Gov. Corbett has allotted $9.3 billion. This is the largest amount ever for state funding to school districts for basic education.
State funding has been cut for higher education and has been blamed for higher tuition. In fact, tuitions have always been increasing, no matter the amount of state funding that has been given. It is time for the colleges and universities to end the massive spending for grand building projects and to use their large endowments to educate students and keep tuitions low.
Saylor: State funding for basic education was not decreased in last year's budget; in fact, it was the largest state funding for K-12 ever. The Obama stimulus money ended and we received less money from the federal government last year. Gov. Rendell overspent and borrowed our state into a fiscal crisis, leaving the treasury empty and in debt.
To replace the federal dollars that went away last year and this year, Pennsylvania would need to increase taxes on individuals making $50,000 a year by $1,200 a year in additional taxes. That is unacceptable to me. We have to reduce the mandates on school districts to control the cost of education, such as prevailing wage.
Higher education has got to get its spending under control. When Pennsylvania was giving state-related and state-owned universities increased allocations, they continued to raise students' tuition. Even in these tough economic times, they continued to spend dollars on extravagant buildings while not fulfilling their commitment to make sure students graduate in four years as promised to parents and students alike.
Our universities must make sure they are training students for jobs that exist when they graduate. We must also make sure we support our community colleges and our trade schools as well.
6. Why should voters cast a vote for you on Election Day? What qualities make you best suited for the position?
Henshaw: I am a true conservative, both social and fiscal. I have worked in private industry and have my own small business. I will listen to the people of the 94th District and pledge not to be a career politician in Harrisburg. I pledge not to take the taxpayer-funded pension and benefits as so many politicians who stay in Harrisburg. I believe in term limits and have a self-imposed limit of five terms in the House.
Lastly, we need to have more business in this state. When my grandchildren graduate from high school and/or college, I want them to be able to find a job in this great state of Pennsylvania and not go off to some other state for employment. And from a personal side, I do not want to have to travel to other states to visit them.
Saylor: As a former small businessman and now as the recently elected majority whip of the House of Representatives, I understand the importance that government must live within its means as families here in York County do every day. As the majority whip of the House of Representatives, I am able to bring my York County common sense and conservative values to the problems our Commonwealth is facing.
I helped to defeat Gov. Rendell's 16 percent personal income tax increase. I worked with Gov. Corbett to cut $1 billion in wasteful spending and balance the state budget without new taxes. I voted against the midnight pay raise and worked to repeal it. I want to continue the reforms Republicans have enacted, such as eliminating state cars for legislators and requiring legislators to pay for a portion of their health insurance premiums. We also implemented PennWatch to ensure open and transparent government by listing all state government expenditures online for taxpayers to see.
I am the highest elected official from York County in over 62 years (Gov. Leader was the last). As whip, I have input into moving legislation. While I am one of 203 members of the House, my leadership position lets me put my conservative principles into action.