Rohrer Doesn’t Roar But . . .
By Bill Lawrence
Sam Rohrer took his underdog gubernatorial campaign to the auditorium of the Delaware County Christian School in Newtown Square Pa., Friday night. He spoke for about an hour and a half to crowd of about 50 then gave detailed answers to any and all questions, then mingled in the lobby with those attending.
His talk was dry, in fact it was often downright dull, but the details he provided — whether on budgetary, educational, constitutional or on energy matters — were done extemporaneously and effortlessly, and with respect to cold reality. For any Obama fans reading this, that means there were no teleprompters. Rohrer very well might be what Pennsylvania is looking for right now.
Rohrer, who represents the 128th District in the State House and is Republican chairman of the House’s Finance Committee, is challenging party-endorsed Tom Corbett, the state attorney general, for the Republican nomination. The primary election is May 18.
After introducing his wife, Ruth Ann, and his two youngest sons — the Rohrers have three other sons and a daughter — Rohrer gave the audience a dose of cold water.
“The challenges facing the next governor will be the greatest in Commonwealth history,” he said. He noted the state is nearing bankruptcy and is expected to take in $4 billion less than the $28 billion it has budgeted. He also pointed out the looming pension crisis.
He said the budget crisis could be traced to the Casey administration when a choice was made to deal with a budget deficit by increasing spending and for which we now must pay.
He then noted that Pennsylvania is a horrible place to start a business.
“We are not unfriendly to business but downright hostile,” he said.
Rohrer said The Keystone State’s business problems come down to taxes, regulations and labor. He said Pennsylvania has the highest business taxes in the nation. He said, in fact, that if the state were a nation it would have the highest business taxes in the world.
With regard to regulations, he said the state regulators go out of their way to place obstacles in front of entrepreneurs. He said a permit for a new coal mine that cost $1,000 a few decades back was now six figures. He, said, however that was easiest problem to fix due to the regulatory outlook largely being the result of direction set by the governor.
He said biggest hurdle for business was the labor environment. Pennsylvania is a “union shop” state which means that all employees at a business with a union must pay dues to the union. Rohrer said Pennsylvania is losing jobs yearly to “right to work” states such as North Carolina that don’t have that requirement.
Rohrer supports the state’s Open Workforce initiative that was introduced in the legislator in November.
In the good news department, Rohrer brought up the natural gas waiting to be tapped in the Marcellus Shale, which cover a good part of the state. He said it has not been widely reported but an additional layer has been found in the formation which possibly doubles the amount of gas it holds. He said some now estimate it as meeting the nations energy needs for the next 100 years.
Rohrer’s next topic was education and property taxes which fund most of Pennsylvania’s public schools. He said he was the author of Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program which he describes as the most successful school choice program in the country and provides assistance to 50,000 children a year. He wants it expanded.
Rohrer said that 30 percent of the school districts in the state are insolvent.
Regarding the property tax, Rohrer wants to get rid of it.
“How many of you own your home?” he asked the audience. “I used to think I did too.”
Rohrer said the property tax is among the cruelest tax and disproportionately affects the poor. He said that 70 percent of those below the poverty line in Pennsylvania are home owners. If they fail to pay their taxes for two straight years the state is likely to take their home.
If you want to see what your child’s teacher made in 2009, btw, visit here.
Rohrer’s plan is to replace the property tax by expanding the sales tax to things such as labor; getting fees from Macellus Shale; and casino money. He noted that food and utilities would remain exempt and the tax would remain at 6 percent.
He noted he could easily cut each department in the state budget by 10 percent to more than cover any left over shortfall.
Rohrer final, and maybe most important, point involved ethics. He said the mistrust many hold for government comes from their elected officials unwillingness to tell the truth and to humbly consider themselves as public servants.
Corbett ought to keep his eye on the rear-view mirror. Rohrer is clearly playing to win and is getting a lot of help from the Tea Party groups.
“Seventy percent of those polled said they would support a Tea Party endorsed candidate over a party-endorsed candidate,” Rohrer said.
Long-time Delaware County activist Rick Lacy backed up that point when he introduced him.
“This year for the first time in 25 years of being involved in politics, I will not be voting for the lesser of two evils,” he said.
Rohrer was scheduled for a stop in Scotland, Pa. in Franklin County. 9 a.m., Saturday.