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Denise Weldon-Siviy Candidate for General Assembly, 91st District

(9/2016) The hardest part about running for the state legislature this year seems to be getting people to realize that there is a race. And I get it. The presidential campaigns are drama central. It’s impossible to compete with that for attention, especially if you’re running as a moderate focused on financial responsibility.

Yet, despite the lack of interest, the state house race is of paramount importance for several reasons.

We need reps who are American first - One of the reasons that I’m running for the 91st House Seat is that we have to get past the hyper-partisanship, the blaming, and the refusing to work together to do what’s right for the people. Not that long ago, our politicians were American FIRST. Sure, many of them subscribed to partisan ideologies and pandered to special interests. But after they were elected, they buckled down and worked together to do what was right for ALL their constituents. They defined themselves as AMERICAN first and THEN Democrats or Republicans, etc. We don’t see that anymore. We have a national legislature willing to shut down the government regardless of the cost rather than work with the "other" side (as if they were talking about enemy combatants and not fellow Americans). And we have a state legislature that threw a 9-month temper tantrum last year for the same reason. We can’t afford to keep re-electing politicians who see themselves as Republican or Democrat first. We need Pennsylvanians and Americans.

We can’t rely of just sin taxes - Can you smoke, drink and gamble your way to success? The Pennsylvania legislature seems to think so. The backbone of the revenue plan passed this year is to increase taxes on tobacco, sell more liquor, and expand gambling. Ignoring the very valid ethical question of whether the state should be encouraging any of these behaviors, the truth is we can’t balance the budget by just encouraging taxpayers to party more. At some point, everyone will sober up and realize that the bar tab still hasn't been paid...

The gambling cow needs a rest - Gambling always seems to be the go-to approach for Pennsylvania lawmakers when they need funds. And I get the attraction. We’d all like for money to just fall from the sky with no strings attached to balance our state budget. And in theory, I have NO problem with gambling income. In practice, we’ve already milked that cow for all she’s worth.

Pennsylvania already receives a great deal of money from gambling. We should be grateful for that, but also realize that adding more gambling at this point just siphons gamblers from one casino to another or one form of gambling to another (table games to online gambling, for example). Getting the players to change seats at the blackjack table doesn’t increase the amount they’ll lose. But grossly overestimating gambling income – then spending that money on state services BEFORE we’ve actually received it, will certainly increase the amount our state loses long term.

Home owners need a break - Gridlock isn’t free. When our state government can’t agree on how to pay its bills, or even what to fund in the first place, those bills don’t go away. When our lawmakers won’t work together to find reasonable compromises, deficits continue to pile up and unfunded mandates in areas like education are passed on to local property owners in the form of higher school taxes. It’s time to stop passing the bill to homeowners. We need to elect lawmakers who are willing and able to work together.

Hyper partisanship doesn’t belong in the state house - Too often the first – and only – question that people ask of candidates for public office is "What is your party?" On the state level, I think the answer to that question should be, "What does it matter?" On a state level, it shouldn’t matter. National politics is full of extreme partisanship. Perhaps it should be. After all, the issues that divide us by party – ideological and philosophical – are issues that we all know are actually decided on the national level. Our foreign debt and civil liberty disagreements aren’t resolved by the Pennsylvania legislature. They’re decided by the U.S. Congress and, increasingly, by the U.S. Supreme Court.

What our state government does – or should do – is keep the lights on. It keeps the doors open in our public schools. It keeps our bridges repaired and our roads paved. It keeps our senior centers open and our citizens in need fed and housed. None of these should be partisan issues. Quite frankly, we can’t afford to let our state infrastructure crumble because our state legislature is locked in pointless partisan gridlock.

I suppose that really sums up why I’m running. What Pennsylvania needs most is lawmakers willing to put their constituents first. We already have more than enough people in Harrisburg representing their parties. We need people in Harrisburg representing their people. And that’s exactly what I intend to do if elected.

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