John Blake is a state senator but he retains another title that he earned even before he began his legislative career — “the adult in the room.” The Times-Tribune editorial board endorses the Archbald Democrat for a third term representing the 22nd Senatorial District, covering all of Lackawanna County and parts of Luzerne and Monroe counties. Republican Frank Scavo, a businessman and Old Forge school director, is an earnest and energetic challenger. But Scavo has based his campaign primarily on poor public policy. He endorses the elimination of local school property taxes, which sounds wonderful. But under the proposal he embraces, the state government would assume responsibility for funding schools by granting a $3 billion property tax break to large businesses and more to the wealthiest property owners, transferring the burden to workers and poorer Pennsylvanians through substantially higher income and sales taxes. And, many small businesses could face a 61 percent income tax increase. The nonpartisan state Independent Fiscal Office has found, three times, that the proposal would fail to adequately fund schools after just three years. Under the proposal Scavo favors, the school district he represents quickly would become underfunded, and it would have to rely on the state government to increase funding. Blake favors increasing the state percentage of public education funding, which is now just 34 percent, to relieve the pressure on local property taxes. He favors a fair severance tax on gas extraction, closing the gaping “Delaware loophole” that lets many large corporations evade millions of dollars in state taxation, and a revised formula for distributing the state aid. More broadly, Blake is an effective advocate in the Legislature for Northeast Pennsylvania. He is among the caucus leaders on policy matters. And due to his extensive executive branch career prior to his first election in 2010, he knows how to move the bureaucracy’s levers. Due to Blake’s experience and effectiveness, 22nd District voters would be wise to retain him.
Source: The Associated Press