When I took office in 2010 spending in Harrisburg was out of control and Pennsylvania was facing a $4 billion budget deficit. I have worked tirelessly over the last six years to make sure each budget signed into law prioritized our spending to avoid broad-based tax increases while meeting our financial obligations.
During the 2015-16 budget cycle and again in 2016-2017 I opposed the massive broad-based tax increases that were proposed. Instead, I advocated for the elimination of over $700 million in corporate welfare that is appropriated each year proposing to redirect those dollars to education.
Government doesn’t have any of its own money – every penny it spends it must first take from someone else. I remain committed to ensuring your tax dollars are spent responsibly and will continue to focus on protecting taxpayers.
As a graduate of Hatboro-Horsham High School and Shippensburg University and the son of two teachers, I certainly understand the value of a quality public education.
I have proudly supported increases in basic K-12 education funding in Pennsylvania. Each of the six final state budgets I have supported have increased state funding for basic education in Pennsylvania – to record setting levels.
In addition to supporting record levels of basic education funding through the budget process, I introduced legislation to redirect $250 million in corporate welfare to basic education in school districts like Hatboro-Horsham, North Penn, Upper Dublin, and Wissahickon. If my legislation were to have been enacted, it would have sent over $6 million per year back to property taxpayers in school districts in our community.
Additionally, I was an outspoken critic of an outdated school funding formula which unfairly distributed education dollars across Pennsylvania. While some school districts were receiving nearly 80% of their funding from the state, school districts in our community were receiving less than 20% of their funding from the state. I voted to enact a new funding formula proposed by the bipartisan Basic Education Funding Commission to ensure state education funding is distributed based on the actual costs to educate our children rather than a politically driven formula. Under this newly adopted formula, schools in our community will see increased state funding.
We have a constitutional and moral obligation to ensure our students receive the best education possible all while keeping the taxpayers in mind.
Ensuring We Have Safe, Clean Drinking Water
Following the federal government’s announcement that Horsham residents may have been drinking water containing dangerous levels of harmful chemicals for decades I worked with the Governor’s Office to secure $10 million in state funds for infrastructure improvements necessary to remove all detectable levels of these chemicals from our drinking water.
Additionally, I was the first public official to demand action when the EPA acknowledged the water safety standards they had been using were inadequate. For months, I have demanded the federal government fulfill their obligations to Horsham Township and to protect our safety by:
- Funding for filters to remove all detectable levels of the contaminants from our public water supply
- Providing blood tests so we can learn the nature and extent of our exposure to these chemicals
- Completing a comprehensive health study so we can understand what, if any, health risks we face
Since I first began speaking out on these issues, a broad, bipartisan group of local, state and federal officials have joined my efforts including Governor Wolf (D), U.S. Senators Pat Toomey (R) and Robert Casey (D), U.S. Congressmen Pat Meehan (R), Brendan Boyle (D), and Mike Fitzpatrick (R) as well as the full PA House of Representatives and Pennsylvania Senate.
Because the federal government refuses to address these issues satisfactorily, I have repeatedly called on the PA Department of Environmental Protection to assume a greater role in addressing this issue for all our communities by adopting a “zero-tolerance” policy for the presence of these chemicals in our drinking water. I will continue pushing DEP to adopt our own tough drinking water standards to ensure we have the cleanest, safest drinking water in America.
As a life-long Horsham resident and the father of two small children who had been drinking our public water, I am deeply concerned about the safety of our water and will continue fighting for the highest standards as it relates to our public drinking water and public health.
Protecting Our Families
I’ve focused considerable attention to fighting for our most vulnerable citizens – our children.
Prior to joining the legislature, I spent most of my time as a child abuse prosecutor. Accordingly, I focused significant time and attention to strengthening our laws protecting our children. I helped close Megan’s Law loopholes in Pennsylvania and have worked tirelessly to improve our child protection laws. I’ve authored legislation prohibiting teachers, coaches or other school employees to engage in sexual conduct with students. Additionally, I wrote the current law expanding the list of those required to report suspected child abuse and dramatically increased the penalties for filing to notify authorities that a child was abused.
In addition to prosecuting child abuse cases, I was a federal firearms prosecutor where I prosecuted some of Montgomery County’s most violent offenders. I've used my background to introduce several measures aimed at reducing gun violence without infringing upon Second Amendment rights. Most of my bills focus on felons and those who have been disqualified from possessing guns due to mental health issues. I've introduced several bills to help our law enforcement community combat gun violence on our streets and in our homes and I'm proud many of these bills have passed unanimously or with broad bipartisan support.
I have also written legislation to protect victims of crime. When a municipality attempted to evict a victim of domestic violence simply because she called the police for help, I wrote the law that ensures nobody is penalized for calling for emergency assistance. No one should have to think twice before calling 911.
I’ve seen firsthand the important services non-profit agencies provide to victims of crime. As a result, I fought to restore vital funding for Rape Crisis and Domestic Violence Centers in each state budget earning me recognition from the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence. I also cosponsored legislation to direct a portion of Montgomery County’s casino revenue to Montgomery County’s only domestic violence shelter, Laurel House and our only Child Advocacy Center, Mission Kids. These agencies rely on donations to fund their programs and I felt it was important to find them a dedicated funding stream so they can continue servicing victims of domestic violence and child abuse.
One of the biggest issues I hear about from my constituents is concerns with transportation. Whether it is traffic congestion or concerns with road conditions, I have supported efforts to improve transportation infrastructure in our community.
I supported Act 89 of 2013 which invests $2.3 billion into transportation annually. This infusion of funds is being used to address transportation deficiencies around the Commonwealth. Right in our own community, I’ve supported many local road improvement projects including:
- $4.2 million for improvements at the Ft. Washington interchange of the PA Turnpike in Upper Dublin;
- $7.3 million in intersection improvements at 5 points in Montgomeryville;
- $14.7 million for road widening on County Line Road from Stump to Kulp Road;
- $15 million for road widening and resurfacing of County Line Road from Kulp Road to Route 611;
- $21 million in intersection improvements on Welsh Road at Limekiln Pike and Norristown Road;
- $2 million grant to Upper Dublin Township to add a turnpike slip ramp at the Fort Washington Office Park; and
- $1 million grant for Lower Gwynedd for improvements at the Norristown Road and Sumneytown Pike intersection.
I remain committed to ensuring our transportation infrastructure meet our current and future demands.
Intergrity in Government
Sadly, rarely a week goes by without a news article of a public figure violating the public trust. Political service used to be held in high regard and I believe those of us in office must lead by example to restore that sacred trust.
For that reason I was proud to be selected by an overwhelmingly bipartisan majority of the members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to lead the investigation into the activities of Attorney General Kathleen Kane. It’s an honor to have the trust of my colleagues from both sides of the aisle in this important endeavor.
Additionally, I’ve cosponsored legislation to end automatic cost of living adjustments to state legislators and I donate all cost of living increases I receive to local charities. I also advocated for an end to taxpayer funded cars for legislators and require state legislators to contribute to their healthcare – both policies were adopted. I’ve also supported legislation to end defined benefit pension plans for legislators and advocated moving toward defined contribution plans as found in the private sector.
I also supported the Pennsylvania Web Accountability and Transparency Act (PennWatch). PennWatch provides citizens with in-depth information about the state budget, state revenues and expenditures.
Growing up my father used to tell me, “Don’t tell me, show me.” I believe those of us in public service must lead by example to restore the public’s faith in our politicians and our political system.