The portions of Lawrence, Butler, and Beaver Counties that make up the 10th State House District are emblematic of Pennsylvania – both its problems and its promise.
For too long, our district has seen its economy stagnate, its values dismissed, and its young people move away in search of opportunities that should be available right here.
As state representative, Aaron Bernstine will serve the people of the 10th District with a relentless focus on one question: is this good for the folks back home? For decades now, that question hasn’t often been asked inside the state Capitol. Aaron will make it his maxim.
He will concentrate on five areas: Jobs, Education, and Spending, while reforming Harrisburg and maintaining our values.
The district has much to offer to job-creators: productive workers with a strong work ethic and the family centered values that provide for a stable economy. Yet of the three counties represented in the 10th District, two of them – Lawrence and Beaver – experience an unemployment rate of 0.6% and 0.9%, respectively, higher than the statewide figure. This is unacceptable.
A Job-Friendly District
Aaron will propose a broad-based attack on this problem, starting with a simplified tax code to attract new businesses and grow existing ones. Right now, Pennsylvania workers suffer with the second-highest corporate net income tax in the nation. This job-killing tax, part of a tangle of needless bureaucratic regulation, must be reduced. He also will press for financial incentives for key industries to locate in Pennsylvania, and hire our world-class workforce for jobs in energy, manufacturing, technology, construction, and agriculture.
A student’s zip code should not be his or her destiny. Under the Pennsylvania Constitution, every child in the commonwealth is promised a solid education. It’s time the state keeps that promise, by abandoning failed and outdated policies and concentrating on an education system that puts students first.
The old theory of one-size-fits-all in education no longer works. Students and their families should have the option of seeking a school that best fits with that student’s needs and the family’s aspirations. Parental and Student choice is an issue of personal rights, and Aaron will stand up to the special interests and entrenched bureaucrats to make sure that every student in the 10th District can receive the education that fits their needs.
Education for the Real World
Unemployment in the 10th District continues, even as thousands of job openings go begging. The problem is a mismatch between skills and available work. Aaron will champion support for the trade schools and community colleges that can give workers in the district the skills they need for good-paying, family-sustaining jobs in the skilled trades. We have the resources and the workforce – let’s combine the two in a system that supports community.
Bringing College Costs Under Control
Think about this: since 2000, tuition at both Pitt and Penn State has risen by more than 145 percent. In sixteen years, the cost of an education at the state’s two flagship universities has run more than triple the rate of inflation. A university education should be a doorway to success, not a trap door into lifelong debt.
Aaron will press for legislation that requires accountability from universities accepting state funds. The commonwealth has spent billions underwriting its institutions of higher learning and taxpayers are entitled to expect the people who run higher education to respect basic math.
The Wolf administration as well as both Democrats and Republicans in Harrisburg have set a sad, new record: the longest budget impasse in Pennsylvania history.
It long ago became obvious that state government doesn’t have a “revenue problem.” It has a spending problem. In 2001, the state’s General Fund budget was $20 billion. Today, the governor and bureaucrats in Harrisburg plan to spend $30+ billion. Neither Pennsylvania’s economy nor the incomes of its working families have grown by 50 percent, so why should our spending?
Reform Public Pensions
Aaron will also fight for the elimination of the defined benefit pension program for new state employees, moving those new hires to a 401(k) style program similar to those used in the private sector. This change is urgent. Because of an ill-conceived pension hike scheme in 2001, the state’s public employee system now faces an unfunded debt of more than $50 billion. We cannot begin to solve that problem without getting to the source: unrealistic and reckless debt accumulation.
Constitutional Spending Limits
Aaron favors an amendment to the state Constitution to limit spending to the rate of the Consumer Price Index, adjusted for population growth. This will curtail the legislative impulse to spend their way into economic problems. State spending should not outpace inflation, nor should it swallow up the earnings of hard-working taxpayers.
Everybody talks reform, but nobody takes the lead. As your state representative, Aaron will lead by example, providing an honest day’s work for your dollar, always understanding that it’s your money Harrisburg spends.
No Taxpayer Funded Car
Your boss doesn’t buy you a car and pay for your commute to work. Why should taxpayers do this for men and women who call themselves “public servants”? As a legislator, Aaron will forgo the costly perks of a state car. He has his own. It runs fine. And he doesn’t expect someone to pick up the tab for his drive to work.
Legislators don’t simply enjoy a good salary - they stick taxpayers with the tab for their stay in Harrisburg. That includes the five months when members of the general assembly couldn’t even accomplish their most basic task: passing a balanced budget.
Aaron knows state government costs enough as it is, without taxpayers footing the bill for luxury hotels and fine dining, without a receipt to show for it.
It’s a conflict of interest when the men and women who decide how to spend our dollars grant themselves lavish, defined-benefit pensions while the working families of the 10th District struggle to get by. Aaron will reject any state pension. In fact, he sees public office as an act of public service, meaning he won’t become one of those Harrisburg lifers whose only ambition is to retire on the public treasury. He’s there to do a job, get it done, and move back into the most important role any Pennsylvanian can have: private citizen.
It’s time to stop asking the people of Western Pennsylvania to apologize for their beliefs, heritage, and values. The 10th District is overwhelmingly pro-life. Its residents respect and honor the Second Amendment, and more than one of them knows that Pennsylvania’s Constitution says the right to bear arms “shall not be questioned.”
Unlike the Obama Democrats, We don’t “cling to their guns and religion.” They embrace personal liberty. We honor life, and recognize that all rights and values derive from a divine source.