Supports lowering the corporate income tax rate from 9.9 to 7.4 percent and closing loopholes lsuch as the Delaware loophole that allow large corporations to avoid paying state taxes. Voted against increases to state worker and teacher pensions that contributed to the looming pension crisis. Would vote against any changes to the pensions of retirees or existing vested workers. Believes the best short-term solution to the problem is taking out a general obligation bond while borrowing rates are low to fund pensions, though currently state law prohibits taking out bonds for that purpose. Said that law should be overturned and a bond borrowed to avoid spikes in property and other taxes.
Believes the state pension crisis is the greatest challenge facing the state Legislature and would raise revenues by eliminating tax loopholes, curtailing spending and raising money from a natural gas severance tax to tackle the problem. Would reduce management bureaucracy by increasing the state employee-to-manager ratio from the current one manager per 4.5 employees to one manager per 9.5 employees, a plan he says could save the state $700 million per year and eliminate the state debt in six years.
UNEMPLOYMENT/CREATING INVESTMENT IN PA
Only supports corporate tax incentives tied to actual jobs, “not jobs that we move from one company to another.” Opposes tax incentives for the Shell ethane cracker plant proposed in Western Pennsylvania because those incentives are tied to gas purchases rather than job creation. Believes investing in education and job training to prepare a highly skilled workforce is crucial, and therefore opposes cuts to education.
Kaufer: Would offer targeted tax credits for companies seeking to run their facilities on natural gas and would open a temporary tax credit window for companies to relocate to Pennsylvania, cutting the corporate tax rate in half to 5 percent for the first five years. Would create capital investment tax credits for companies that invest in their own growth and create jobs.
Said she would vote “for any bill that’s brought before me to change the way we do business in Harrisburg,” and that those measures would pass overwhelmingly, but that Republicans setting the legislative agenda have not called such bills for a vote. They haven’t, Mundy charged, “because it’s more politically expedient to use these issues to win campaigns.” Doesn’t take per diem payments; itemizes expenses for reimbursement.
Supports a part-time state legislature receiving part-time pay and benefits. Pledged to not accept automatic pay raises or per diems. Believes legislators should have to vote on pay raises, not have them take effect automatically, and that state elected officials should not be entitled to pensions and lifetime health care coverage after 10 years of service. Would end pension multipliers and health care for life, and require a higher contribution to health insurance than the 1 percent state legislators now pay. If unable to eliminate those entitlements, he would step down after eight years.
Supports a severance tax on natural gas above the impact fee rates imposed by Act 13, which she voted against. Proposed a moratorium on new Marcellus Shale drilling permits in 2010, and has introduced subsequent bills to strengthen environmental regulations on gas drilling in Pennsylvania, including a bill to track the storage disposal of drilling waste water and to ban drilling in flood plains. Supports increasing setback distances to ban drilling within 2,500 feet of a primary water supply for a community water system.
Supports a natural gas severance tax beyond the impact fees established under Act 13. Said West Virginia’s severance tax rate of 5.8 percent, one of the lowest among states that tax gas production, should be a model for Pennsylvania. Believes state’s definition of impacted communities should be altered to provide more revenue to counties on the border of drilling areas such as Luzerne County. Said gas tax revenues should fund independent environmental testing, emergency response, infrastructure repair, early childhood education funding and renewable energy tax credits. Has refused campaign contributions from gas companies to maintain independence.
ACT 13 ZONING PROVISIONS
Voted against Act 13, which placed restrictions on local zoning control over natural gas activities including wells and compressor stations before those provisions were overturned by the state courts. Favors local control over zoning. Wrote to the Luzerne County Zoning Hearing Board in opposition to UGI Energy Service’s plan to build a natural gas compressor station in West Wyoming.
Believes the state should establish uniform rules governing setbacks for wells and gas infrastructure and framing municipal zoning laws, but that the setback and zoning provisions in Act 13 are not conservative enough and should be strengthened.
PROPERTY TAX REFORM
Supports reform measures to fund schools through sales taxes, personal income taxes and gaming funds, rather than the property tax-based system in place now. Was prepared to vote for House Bill 1776, a now tabled property tax relief bill, in committee “only because it would have moved the issue forward and continued the discussion,” but also noted problems with the bill, chiefly the $3.5 billion funding gap the Department of Revenue estimated it would create in education funding. Opposes cuts to education funding and said corporate tax loopholes should be closed to raise state revenue.
Supports House Bill 1776, which would eliminate property taxes as a source of education funding and replace those tax revenues by increasing the state income tax rate from 3.07 percent to 4 percent, hiking sales taxes from 6 to 7 percent and removing sales-tax exemptions on many goods and services. But also said the bill as it now stands is a starting point and that the bill should not shortchange education. Closing tax loopholes such as the Amazon loophole, by which online retailers avoid sales tax, also would boost state income, alleviating dependence on property tax revenue.
Opposed and voted against the voter ID law passed this year. Said the bill was “clearly an effort to suppress the Democratic vote, especially in the cities,” but that the ID requirements would be “a tremendous burden” for many of her constituents, particularly the elderly.
Supports voter ID in principle but believes the state attempted to implement the voter ID law too quickly before this election. Said a voter ID law should allow 12 to 18 months before taking effect. Does not think showing an ID card needs to be a requirement to vote; asking a voter to provide the last four digits of his or her Social Security number at the poll would suffice.