Forest Hills-Regent Square Patch: 2012 General Election Guide
Here's a look at the candidates and important issues for the November general election.
As we look ahead to November’s elections, Forest Hills-Regent Square Patch is devoted to bringing you the information you need about every race in town.
Forest Hills-Regent Square Patch has an Elections Page where you can find more information.
Forest Hills, Edgewood and Swissvale
Economic development, transportation, health care and education funding are hot topics for the candidates of Forest Hills, Edgewood and Swissvale.
34th Legislative District—Incumbent Democratic state Rep. Paul Costa is running unopposed in this election. The 34th District includes Braddock, Braddock Hills, Chalfant, Churchill, Edgewood, Forest Hills, North Braddock, Rankin, Swissvale, Turtle Creek, Wilkins and parts of the 14th Ward in the City of Pittsburgh.
24th Legislative District—Democrat Ed Gainey is running opposed. The 24th District covers Aspinwall; the 11th, 12th, 13th and part of the 14th wards in Pittsburgh; and Wilkinsburg.
PA 43rd Senate District—Democrat incumbent Sen. Jay Costa is running unopposed. The district includes Braddock Hills, Chalfant, Churchill, Edgewood, Forest Hills, Swissvale and the 14th Ward of Pittsburgh.
PA 14th Congressional District—Incumbent Mike Doyle, a Democrat, will face Republican Hans Lessmann in the fall general election. Both are from Forest Hills. The district includes Braddock, Braddock Hills, Chalfant, East Pittsburgh, Edgewood, Forest Hills, North Braddock, Rankin, Swissvale, Turtle Creek, Wilkins and Wilkinsburg.
U.S. Senate Challenge
Republican: Tom Smith, Armstrong County
Democrat: Bob Casey, the incumbent U.S. senator from Scranton, Lackawanna County
Libertarian: Rayburn Smith
Incumbent Democrat Bob Casey of Scranton, Lackawanna County, faces a well-funded challenge from Republican Tom Smith of Shelocta, Armstrong County in the race for one of Pennsylvania's two U.S. Senate seats.
Casey, a son of the late Gov. Robert Casey, won the seat in 2006 after defeating former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum. Prior to entering the Senate, he served as state auditor general and treasurer.
Smith, a coal businessman and multimillionaire, is a founder of a Tea Party group in Indiana and Armstrong counties.
Republican: Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts governor.
Democrat: Barack Obama, incumbent U.S. president and former U.S. senator from Illinois.
Libertarian: Gary Johnson
Green: Jill Stein
The number one issue for western Pennsylvania voters, as with many voters across the country, is jobs and the sluggish economic recovery.
President Obama continues to campaign for the American Jobs Act, which the White House says will prevent up to 280,00 teacher layoffs, allow for the hiring of tens of thousands of police officers and firefighters, encourage the hiring of returning veterans, and invest billions into roads, rails, airports and waterways. And he blames Congress for not doing enough. Congress “hasn’t acted fast enough,” the president told his supporters at a recent rally. “Congress,” he said, “can’t just sit on their hands.”
Governor Romney and other Republicans suggest the Obama plan is nothing more than a payoff to Democratic constituent groups, particularly organized labor, which would benefit from federal grants to states to keep government workers on the payroll, as well as construction projects to be completed by union job crews.
On his campaign’s web site, Romney blames the President’s policies for the lack of job growth. “The vast expansion of costly and cumbersome regulation of sectors of the economy, ranging from energy to finance to health care. When the price of doing business in America rises, it does not come as a surprise that entrepreneurs and enterprises cut back, let employees go, and delay hiring,” Romney said.
PA Property Tax Reform
Gov. Ed Rendell promised that revenue from slots parlors and gaming tables would greatly reduce or in some cases eliminate property taxes. Years later, that promise remains unfulfilled with the average savings per household at $186 in 2011, according to data from the Pennsylvania Coalition of Taxpayer Associations.
There is new legislation, albeit in limbo right now, which would eliminate a school district’s ability to levy a property tax, replacing that funding with an increase in sales and personal income taxes statewide.
The state house finance committee tabled the Property Tax Independence Act on Monday, but the issue is not likely going to go away.
Sponsored by Rep. Jim Cox, R-Berks, the measure would hike the sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent statewide and raise the personal income tax rate from 3.07 percent to 4 percent. In Allegheny County, the sales tax would rise to 8 percent.
In addition, many goods and services currently exempt from the sales tax would be taxable under the bill, which aims to raise $10 billion dollars to replace the revenue that would be lost by the elimination of school property taxes.
Liquor Store Privatization
Gov. Tom Corbett is trying to do what two of his Republican predecessors, over a span of 30 years, could not: privatize state stores so that private retailers can sell wine and liquor.
The bill, sponsored by House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Bradford Woods, could come up for a vote in the House by week’s end. If approved, it would go on to the Senate for consideration in the fall. "House Bill 11 is about divestiture. House Bill 11 is about the consumer. It is about reasonable prices and better selection and more convenience. It is about upgrading law enforcement," said Turzai when he first introduced the measure last July. "It is about moving from a public sector dinosaur into the modern 21st century."
Only two states, Pennsylvania and Utah, have complete control of all aspects of wine and spirits distribution, according to a report that the governor's budget office commissioned.
Not everyone agrees that House Bill 11 is the way to go. "The House Liquor Control Committee passed a version of HB 11, which would leave the Liquor Control Board intact, a major turnaround from Turzai’s original proposal to completely privatize liquor sales," states a story from 90.5 FM Pittsburgh Essential Public Radio.
The union that represents state liquor store managers has lobbied against the bill; two Pennsylvania chapters of the United Food Commercial Workers, representing state store employees, also oppose the bill, the 90.5 radio story states.
"The Independent State Store Union says that the bill’s provision to allow beer distributors to begin selling wine will cause the state store system to slowly diminish," according to the story. The ISSU also opposes the bill.