Today’s online version of Main Line Media News includes an ‘As I See It’ op-ed article written by former PA State Rep Paul Drucker (D). Drucker suggests that currently serving PA State Rep Warren Kampf (R) of the 157 Legislative District is following the ‘Tea Party’ agenda.
The editorial specifically points to the state budget cuts to education, lack of taxing on Marcellus Shale gas drilling and the state’s decreased funding for social services. Drucker claims that an extraction tax levied on the gas-drillers would have helped solve many of the state’s budgetary problems. Based on the editorial, it is clear that Drucker does not support some of Kampf’s decisions since taking office. (Drucker’s editorial is below).
Read the editorial — do you think Drucker’s opinion provides a fair analysis of Kampf’s performance as a state representative? Do you agree that Kampf has leanings towards the Tea Party agenda?
I had some questions about Drucker’s op-ed . . . specifically why he wrote this editorial ‘now’ and what was ‘his’ agenda? I emailed him some questions and asked for a response by Wednesday, August 30. I will post any response that I receive from our former state representative.
Here is the list of questions that I sent to former State Rep Paul Drucker:
1. Why write the As I See It editorial ‘now’?
2. What do you think are the most challenging issues facing the residents of the 157 Legislative District?
3. If you had been re-elected as state representative, what would you be doing differently than State Rep Warren Kampf to address these issues?
4. Where do you think State Rep Kampf should focus his attention?
5. Do you think that the possible 157 Legislative District re-districting could play a role in the State Representative race of 2012? If so, why?
6. Are you considering a 2012 run against State Rep Kampf?
Warren Kampf refuses to permit facts to interfere with his Tea Party agenda
By Paul Drucker
Main Line Media News
Published: Saturday, August 27, 2011
It is summer, and the annual Harrisburg spectacle of balancing the budget has come and gone. Back in March, Governor Corbett presented a budget that rolled back government spending to 2008-9 levels, with the most draconian cuts made to public education. The proposed budget slashed $1.2 billion from pre-K-12 education and $686 million from higher education. Moreover, the cut to state-funded colleges and universities represented a staggering 50-percent decrease from 2010 state funding levels.
The ink wasn’t even dry on Corbett’s proposed budget when State Rep. Warren Kampf jumped on the bandwagon, e-mailing his constituents in the 157th District, “This is a tough but honest budget: Corbett balances his budget without resorting to massive tax hikes.”
Actually, the budget included no “tax hikes” at all. Despite widespread support for a tax on gas-drillers in the Marcellus Shale gas field, Mr. Kampf aligned himself with the slash-only Tea Partiers and balanced the budget by making massive cuts in expenditures.
Apparently, Kampf and his anti-tax colleagues did not anticipate the outcry from Pennsylvanians who were opposed to public education bearing the brunt of Corbett’s budget cuts. In short order, Mr. Kampf reversed his earlier position. He claimed, “I said from day one that we could do a much better job prioritizing spending than the governor did in his proposal…”
The result was the proposed House Bill 1485. In an e-mail to constituents he wrote that House Republicans had “unveiled a plan that shifted state spending back to our schools.” He claimed the bill “restored education spending… by building on bipartisan ideas…”
In reality H.B. 1485 didn’t “restore” anything. It merely reduced the size of the draconian cuts. The funding gap for pre-K-12 education remains at $586 million. Higher-education funding remains $165 million below 2010-11 levels, almost ensuring increases in tuition and fees for college students this fall.
And the Republican House budget’s partial restoration of education funding has come at a steep cost to the most vulnerable Pennsylvanians. It slashes an additional $1 billion from health and human services. In reality, Mr. Kampf and his colleagues simply decided to shift the pain.
Furthermore, no one can honestly call this bill bipartisan. The vote was 109 Republicans in support, 90 Democrats and two Republicans opposed.
In Sen. Andy Dinniman’s view, “This budget fails some of the most deeply held priorities of the district: education, the environment and health care. A vote for this budget was a vote against open space, and a vote for higher local property taxes and higher tuition at state schools.” In effect it is nothing more than trickle-down taxation; robbing Peter to pay Paul.
While Representative Kampf claims to be a strong supporter of local control for schools, he voted for H.B. 1326 within hours of passing the budget. This bill restricts the ability of school boards to raise revenue beyond the Act 1 limit and increases their costs if they attempt to do so. Despite the fact that only three states in this country fund education at a lower level than Pennsylvania, the Republican majority in Harrisburg made it a high priority to further restrict local districts’ flexibility and discretion.
But according to Representative Kampf, this bill “strengthens taxpayers’ voices in the local communities and encourages school districts to budget more efficiently…” He knows that historically, very few tax increases are approved by referendum, and that no referenda to raise revenue beyond Act 1 limitations have ever passed. The bill virtually guarantees larger class size, reduced educational options and an overall decline in the quality of education.
All of these Tea Party machinations could have been avoided if Pennsylvania did what every other natural gas-producing state has done – impose an extraction tax. We are the only major energy-producing state without one. A current Democratic-supported Marcellus tax bill projects 2012 revenue at $492 million with annual increases going forward.
In addition, as of June 30, there was a $785-million budget surplus. These revenues could have easily supported a budget that avoided deep and harmful cuts. Instead we have a Tea Party budget, supported by Representative Kampf, which will clearly result in a hike in local property taxes and hurt the neediest Pennsylvanians.
As Senator Dinniman so eloquently reminds us, “These are not our values… We value education, and we value the Quaker tradition that reaches back to the founding of our country and teaches us to extend a hand to those who are truly in need.”
Clearly this year’s budget doesn’t honor those values. And no stream of e-mails or party-generated talking points can hide this fact.
Paul Drucker served as the state representative for the 157th District in 2009-2010. He served as Tredyffrin Township supervisor from December 2005 until January 2008.