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|York County, PA||April 24, 2012 Election|
Sarah Speed Responds to Questions on Education and Taxes
By Sarah D. SpeedCandidate for State Representative; Pennsylvania State House of Representatives; District 47; Democratic Party
This information is provided by the candidate
Offers Positive Reforms and Her Experience & Insights1. Property Taxes
Property tax reform has eluded the Legislature for nearly half a century and is not likely to occur under the Corbett administration. Proposals offered by local legislators recycle the very same ideas voters rejected by a nearly 5 to 1 margin when Governor Casey attempted to modify property tax allocation. Furthermore, Governor Corbett has often repeated his no tax pledge (for example the enactment of a Marcellus shale "fee" not a "tax") which prevents him from signing legislation increasing sales or income taxes. It may be possible to achieve property tax relief by addressing the funding of public education, which accounts for two-thirds of property taxes. Although adjusting the state school subsidy formula is long overdue, Legislators should not be misled into thinking that adjusting the formula alone will reduce all property taxes. Primarily because the formula would have to be fully funded by the state to do so and, secondly, readjusting the formula will relieve taxes in some districts and lead to increases in others. As we focus on how to relieve property taxes, prudent stewardship requires that we fairly balance the tradeoffs and make reduction for primary residences a priority.
Neither throwing money into education nor slashing funding and leaving students and districts to sink or swim will correct the underlying problems plaguing public education. The Legislature and the Governor must address the inefficiencies and waste inherent in a system of 500 separate school districts. Returning to a County or Regional Superintendent system could decrease administrative cost for every local district. Moving to a statewide teacher contract, funded entirely by the state and making the state responsible for negotiating it, would prevent "leap frog" negotiations from district to district. Shifting to "pay for performance" contracts with private providers can guarantee goals are met or the taxpayer doesn't pay. There is a reading program pioneered with Senatorial grants that has helped districts as diverse as Hazelton and Union City dramatically improve reading scores and lower special education costs + and it comes with a guarantee: If the targets are not met, the district does not pay. Less than 25% of our districts have taken advantage of this program. Pennsylvania's resistance to change what does not work to what does work must be overcome. It starts with the Legislature.
3. What Qualities Make You the Candidate Most Suited to the Position?
As a mother and the daughter of a public school teacher, I understand the difficulty securing safe and affordable childcare and quality education. This experience will ground my decisions in addressing changes in school funding guidelines and teacher licensing.
As a military family, I understand the sacrifices demanded of our service members as they navigate the pain of deployments and the stress of relocation, this experience will guide my work to lessen the burden of military families.
As a local volunteer emergency responder, I understand the emergency preparedness needs of a growing community, how to plan for disasters and how effective government can mitigate public safety concerns. This experience will guide the drafting of resolutions calling for statewide education on emergency preparedness and legislation which encourages businesses and families to prepare to engage in community planning.
As an attorney, I understand the complexities of the law and how to read, explain and most importantly write clear and constitutional legislation addressing the evolving needs of Pennsylvania.
These life experiences have honed my skills, made my education meaningful, and guided my career. I am and will remain dedicated to public service as a citizen and hopefully the 47th district's next State Representative.
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