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Shusterman, Marvin Running for 157th District House Seat

A suburban state House district race has gotten national attention for sign-stealing, and not the kind that got the Houston Astros in hot water.

Incumbent Rep. Melissa Shusterman (D-Paoli) accused supporters of Republican challenger Sarah Marvin of taking signs from people’s lawns and properties in Tredyffrin Township. Marvin accused Shusterman supporters of coming to her parents’ house in Chester County and attempting to intimidate her through them. Both candidates denied involvement in the alleged activities.

Rep. Melissa Shusterman

Shusterman is vying for a third term to serve communities in Delaware and Chester Counties. The former TV executive said she is meeting enthusiastic voters when door-knocking who have expressed concerns over reproductive rights and spending – or lack thereof – in Harrisburg.

“We have money in the coffers, in the billions, [that] has people concerned about where are they in the budget,” she said in an interview. “It gives us an opportunity to speak to people and let them know what we’re working on, what we’re looking to achieve, and what we’ve achieved.”

Marvin, a mother of four who left teaching to open a tutoring company and home-school her children, told the Delaware Valley Journal she is concerned about what children learn in public schools. Specifically, she took exception to the Tredyffrin/Easttown School District paying Pacific Educational Group $12,000 in the spring of 2019 to provide curriculum on Critical Race Theory.

Marvin saw an opportunity to better support the students she tutored, who are so overwhelmed by the presence of societal issues emphasized at school that they are unable to focus on academic studies.

“My primary concern was students were starting to not meet their benchmarks and certain ideologies were being taught in the schools, and some of it contrary to what some of the families that I had spoken to and my own family thought were appropriate for in-school learning in a public setting,” she said. “So I had spoken at school board meetings and I felt my voice wasn’t being heard. COVID came and that really motivated me, even more, to get off the sidelines, so to speak, and into the action.”

While both candidates graduated from Conestoga High School, Shusterman said she believes the General Assembly doesn’t have as much of a role in local education. However, she did mention local students advocating for an anti-vaping curriculum with her in Harrisburg.

Shusterman lists her major wins as bipartisan-supported bills to help food banks secure merchandise from grocery stores that were past sell-by dates but still considered edible, and extending support for those with intellectual disabilities and autism up to age 21. She is looking forward to continuing the childcare tax credit she passed with Rep. Tina Davis (D-Bucks).

Sarah Marvin

“What we’re finding out at all levels of economic background, is our constituents are suffering because it’s hard to find daycare and childcare, not just find it but afford it,” she said.

 

Marvin said the biggest issue voters she met discussed was the economy, from rising gas prices to supply and staffing shortages at takeout restaurants. Both candidates have suggested solutions to inflation. While Shusterman hopes to pass statewide refund checks that have stalled in the legislature, Marvin wants to see lower taxes for individuals and businesses.

As a small business owner, Marvin emphasized her disagreement with the controversial business shutdowns issued at the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

“Shutting us down was crippling,” she said. “We need to look at some of the [state] regulations which are very old and outdated, that no longer apply, and however create barriers for new business owners and existing business owners that are looking to expand and grow their businesses.”

She supports replacing antiquated regulations with new ones, without adding to the total number on the books.

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DelVal Lawmakers Weigh In on 2022-23 State Budget

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf introduced his final state budget plan in February.

He proposed $45.7 billion to increase general fund spending by $4.5 billion—a nearly 11 percent hike. Wolf made the argument that the state should increase spending on education by $1.55 billion, especially in poorer school districts.

His plan includes increasing the minimum wage, workforce development, veterans’ services and suicide prevention, and funding for environmental programs.

Wolf, a Democrat, recently asked the legislature to give Pennsylvanians $2,000 per household.

“The cost of everything from gas to groceries is a little higher right now than it was just a few weeks ago and for Pennsylvanians living paycheck to paycheck even a small increase in expenses can mean painful decisions like paying for food or rent,” said Wolf. “I see that pain in communities across Pennsylvania and I want to talk about solutions. I want to put $2,000 checks into the hands of Pennsylvanians and families that need it.”

However, Independent Fiscal Office (IFO), the nonpartisan financial watchdog, warned Pennsylvania could face as much as a $1.8 billion deficit by June 2024.  And now the U.S. economy may be on the brink of a recession.

The deadline to adopt the budget is midnight June 30. But the issue of whether or how much of the $6 billion surplus and $1.7 billion pandemic relief funds to spend is a sticking point. Negotiations between Wolf and the Republican-led legislature are continuing.

“During the last three weeks of June we hope to finalize the 2022-2023 budget,” said Sen. Bob Mensch (R-Berks/Bucks/Montgomery). “While the governor seems intent to spend the state into debt, I and my Senate Republican caucus are determined to be fiscally responsible and we will fund our next budget without creating future debt, and thus avoid the future tax increases the governor’s proposal definitely create.

“In a time of hyperinflation and a pending recession, it would be irresponsible to create future economic chaos with a spendthrift budget.”

Rep. Chris Quinn (R-Media) agrees with the governor that more needs to be spent on public education.

“We must make another record-setting investment in public education, as we have in each of the last several years,” said Quinn. “There are learning deficits due to the COVID-related school closures that must be addressed if our kids are going to be prepared for success. With families challenged by runaway inflation, increased energy costs, and skyrocketing gas prices, we must craft a budget that does not further burden hardworking taxpayers.

“Finally, I’d like to see Growing Greener III be considered. Sponsored by Rep. Lynda Schlegel Culver (R-Northumberland/Snyder) and myself. The legislation would invest federal stimulus funds in projects to restore and protect our waterways, preserve open space, and upgrade drinking and wastewater facilities. That targeted investment promotes job growth and activity in tourism and agriculture, our top two industries which are vital to Pennsylvania’s economic well-being.”

Rep. Todd Stephens (R-Montgomeryville) said, “I’m focused on helping restore communities devastated by last year’s tornado, continuing our record-setting investments in our schools and protecting families from the long-term impact of the out-of-control price increases we’re experiencing every day.”

“As always, my top priorities for this budget season are families, education, and economic development,” Rep. Melissa Shusterman (D-Paoli). “Our state is currently sitting on an $8.5 billion dollar surplus. It’s time to start investing that money in hard-working Pennsylvanians, and Gov. Wolf has proposed a budget that will do just that. It includes a Child and Dependent Care tax credit, to reduce the financial burden of childcare on working families and would enable parents to rejoin the workforce without worrying about how to pay for expensive care.

“Additionally, the proposed budget includes increased investment in education, which will provide much-needed property tax relief for homeowners, as well as continuing to ensure our graduates are prepared for the jobs of tomorrow. Both priorities will holistically improve our state’s economic climate which will spur more business investment and create better-paying jobs,” said Shusterman.

But Rep. Tracy Pennycuick  (R-Gilbertsville) urges caution on spending and recommends adding to the state’s savings account. Pennycuick is running for the Senate to replace Mensch, who is retiring.

“For the 2022-23 state budget, I would like to see priorities placed on additional funding for education and school security. I think we also need to dedicate more dollars to address our mental health crisis. Given the economic climate, it is vitally important we continue to put additional dollars in the state’s Rainy Day Fund to help offset any future economic downturns, as well as support our business community to bring down the cost of doing business and address inflation,” said Pennycuick.

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