In­cum­bent Quigley faces Ciresi in re­match

The Phoenix - - LOCAL NEWS - By Evan Brandt ebrandt@21st-cen­tu­ry­media. com @PottstownNews on Twit­ter

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.

Joe Ciresi

Tom Quigley

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