Incumbent Quigley faces Ciresi in rematch
The race for the 146th district seat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives is a rematch of one of the tightest races of 2016.
Incumbent Republican Tom Quigley is once again facing Democratic challenger Joe Ciresi two years after he won a similar race by a margin of just over 600 votes out of nearly 30,000 cast.
Perhaps one of the areas of greatest issues the two face is one of the most hotly debated subjects in southeast Pennsylvania — property taxes.
Quigley said he supports the elimination of property taxes and replacing them with a combination of income and sales taxes which “along with the implementation of the fair funding formula will allow for a thorough and efficient system of public education while at the same time allowing taxpayers to truly own their home,” he wrote in his response to a Digital First Media questionnaire.
He noted that last year’s statewide referendum to amend the state Constitution to allow a 100 percent “homestead exemption” was approved by 54 percent of 146th District voters.
For his part, Ciresi wrote in his response to a Digital First Media questionnaire that “I will support and fight for meaningful property tax reform that relieves the burden on our homeowners — one I understand well as a property taxpayer myself — while making sure that we keep our promise to our children.”
Ciresi wrote “we’ve been promised property tax elimination by our representatives for decades. Instead of making an attractive but empty promise to eliminate your property taxes, I will fight for accomplishable property tax reform through properly funding education on the state level through a true fair funding formula and reducing costs by reforming state mandates on local school districts.”
Both candidates wrote that they support Pennsylvania’s fair funding formula for education adopted in 2016 to help level the playing field between poor and rich school districts — one of the worst disparities in the nation.
Ciresi, a longtime SpringFord School Board member, added: “Our communities have been suffering from Rep. Quigley’s vote to eliminate the fair funding formula we already had in 2010, costing our school districts over $15 million each year since. By fully utilizing the fair funding formula, we can begin to reverse the damage caused by that vote.”
Quigley noted that he voted for the current formula and added, “there is still more work to be done with the formula and that is why I, along with Rep. Tim Hennessey, introduced House Bill 2595. This bill would ensure fairness to all school districts and bring increased funding to local schools more quickly than currently planned.”
Both candidates say they do not support making passing Keystone exams a high school graduation requirement and Quigley noted he voted for the bill recently signed by Gov. Wolf which gives students other options.
Ciresi and Quigley disagree on a proposal to shrink the size of the state legislature. Quigley wrote he has voted in support of a bill that would put the question before the voters.
On the other hand, Ciresi does not support reducing the size of the general assembly. “The current size of each state House district is still small enough geographically to allow citizens to get to know their representatives and for can-
didates to walk their districts and speak directly to voters. The larger each district, the less feasible this becomes and the more reliant candidates will be on money to win elections, taking power away from ordinary voters and giving it to special interests,” he wrote.
Ciresi added, “we need to do a comprehensive review of our state government expenditures, reduce inefficiencies, and bring down costs without reducing the people’s voice in government.”
The candidates are in complete agreement about opening a window to allow victims of sex abuse by priests to allow them to sue the Catholic Church for covering up the crimes, but both also believe the statute of limitations on sexual abuse should be lifted for all institutions, not just the Catholic Church.
The two candidates disagree on whether towns that rely solely on state police should pay a fee for the service.
“I think that the taxpayers in municipalities which rely on state police for police service already pay for this service through their state taxes,” Quigley wrote. “Municipalities and their residents have the power to begin, continue or disband their own police forces as part of their local government.”
“More than half of Pennsylvania’s municipalities choose to utilize free state police coverage instead of having their own police departments,” Ciresi wrote. “This means that taxpayers in places like Pottstown and Limerick have to not only pay for their own local police coverage, but also pay for state police coverage for all of those other municipalities.”
On the subject of an extraction tax being imposed on natural gas drillers, the two candidates are also in relative agreement.
“I believe that we need to tax natural gas drillers, not working families. I intend to stand up to gas lobbyists and fight for a strong severance tax,” Ciresi wrote. “We are the only major gasproducing state without one, and this means that gas companies are making profits from our land without paying their fair share to the state. A robust severance tax set at a rate competitive with other gas-producing states would allow us to invest in education (lowering property taxes), fund conservation programs to mitigate the gas industry’s environmental impact.”
Quigley wrote, “as a member of the House Finance Committee, I voted in favor of House Bill 1401 on Oct. 18 of last year. This bill would impose a volumetric severance tax in addition to the existing Impact Fee.”
He added, “if this bill had been signed into law, the Department of Revenue estimated the following revenue: $57 million for FY2017-18 and $124 million for FY2018-19. I would have favored dedicating this money to the Fair Funding Formula as a source of new revenue to accelerate the implementation of the formula through House Bill 2595.”
Quigley added, “it should be noted that the existing Impact Fee has generated $1.4 billion since its inception and communities in the 146th District — Limerick, Pottstown and Royersford — have all received funds for parks and trail projects from it.”
The 146th District is comprised of Limerick, Lower Pottsgrove and Perkiomen townships, and the boroughs of Royersford, Trappe, along with the eastern precincts in Pottstown.