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54th state House candidates take aim at state budget | TribLIVE.com
Valley News Dispatch

54th state House candidates take aim at state budget

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Tribune-Review
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Bob Brooks
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Michael Korns of Murrysville is chairman of the Westmoreland County Republican Committee.
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Maryalice Newborn.
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Jonathan McCabe
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Bryan Kline
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Robert Bertha
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Four Republicans and two Democrats will be on the May 15 primary ballot for the state House seat being vacated by four-term incumbent Eli Evankovich, R-Murrysville.

Republicans running for the seat, all from Murrysville, are Bob Brooks, Bryan Kline, Michael Korns and Maryalice Newborn. Democrats running for the seat are Robert Bertha of West Deer and Jonathan McCabe of Lower Burrell.

The 54th District includes portions of Westmoreland County, including Murrysville, Upper Burrell, Lower Burrell, Allegheny Township, Export and part of Penn Township, as well as Harrison, Fawn and West Deer in Allegheny County.

One of the main issues for the candidates is the state’s budget, which many believe needs a complete overhaul.

Bertha said he’d like to see a tax on Marcellus shale drilling to increase revenue in the state. He also wants to make sure the budget is passed on time because, as a recent college graduate, he’s seen the issues that arise, especially in publicly funded education, when the budget is delayed.

“The very top priority should be making sure our legislators are passing a budget on time, and a budget that’s not going to be cumbersome to the people of Pennsylvania,” Bertha said.

Brooks said he helped balance Murrysville’s budget and fund major projects without increasing taxes. He wants to bring that experience to Harrisburg.

“My belief is, the last few years, (the state) has been doing increases and we never seem to be able to balance the income versus the outflow — that has to change,” Brooks said.

He’d also like to see some reform to welfare programs, including encouraging able-bodied recipients to find work.

Kline wants to reduce property taxes to reduce the state’s financial burden on the citizens. He said he wants to increase court fees and collections to help fund the budget, an approach he has used in Westmoreland County as clerk of courts to fund programs for victims of crimes.

“I have a proven record of reforming county government, and I’m looking to take my fight to Harrisburg,” Kline said.

Korns said he thinks the state can save money by consolidating its state-run universities, privatizing liquor sales and consolidating PennDOT and the Turnpike Commission.

“The way things are going now, what’s our state going to look like in 20 years?” he said. “We’ve got to make some real big decisions, and some of them are difficult decisions about the budget.”

McCabe supports implementing a severance tax for Marcellus shale drilling, which would be based on how much gas is produced from a well. He also supports expanding “sin” taxes such as on gambling and alcohol. He said he’d also like to see the state expand its medical marijuana sales and open up recreational marijuana to taxation.

“I can’t think of a place (in the budget) that needs to be reduced,” he said. “It’s more of where can we find more money to help expand areas that critically need it.”

Newborn said she wants the state to stop giving tax breaks and subsidies to corporations while increasing taxes on citizens. She also wants the state to privatize wine and liquor sales.

“The government should have no business in a monopoly that has to do with wines and liquors and alcohols,” she said. “Privatize it — just get it done.”

Emily Balser is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-226-4680, [email protected] or via Twitter @emilybalser.

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