EDITOR'S NOTE: Voters will decide on Nov. 6 whether incumbent Gene Yaw or challenger Luana Cleveland will win the state Senate seat representing the 23rd District. The Review sent both candidates a questionnaire, and their answers are printed below.
Name: Gene Yaw
Address: 1916 Mountview Ave., Montoursville, Pa.
Office sought: State senator
Political party: Republican
Occupation: State senator/attorney
Education: B.A. Lycoming College; J.D. American University
1. Why are you seeking the office?
I was born in the senatorial district and grew up on a farm in the district. I attended public school and graduated from college in the district. I have spent most of my working life in the district. In short, I have the background, experience and understanding necessary to represent the citizens of the district.
2. What are your credentials for being an effective representative?
I have the education and experience to operate effectively in the legislative arena. I have served four years as a state senator. Prior to the legislature, I was a county solicitor for over 17 years. I have served as a school district solicitor and served as general counsel to the Pennsylvania College of Technology for over 20 years.
3. If you are the incumbent, what have you done to deserve re-election?
In spite of some opposition, I supported Act 13, the impact fee law. The result is that the counties and municipalities in the district will receive over $42 million annually into the foreseeable future. I was the prime sponsor of the bill mandating the public reporting of gas well production information. I was prime sponsor of an amendment to the Clean and Green law to adjust the unfair manner in which landowners were assessed for gas well pad sites. I was a sponsor of a bill signed into law eliminating inheritance taxes and transfer taxes on family farms. I have sponsored over 200 bills during my tenure in the Senate.
4. If you are the challenger, what have you done to prepare for holding the office?
5. What are the top three issues as you see them and what would you do about them?
The top three issues are (1) producing another balanced budget on time, (2) addressing the devastating pension issue and (3) developing and funding a transportation plan. In producing a balanced budget, we need to recognize we do not have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem. We need to police welfare programs to free up funds for necessary education programs. The pension issue is clear: we must eliminate the outdated defined benefit plan in both SERS and PSERS for new employees. We need to follow the leadership of the business community which eliminated defined benefit plans decades ago. With regard to transportation, we need to devote more funds to our roads, bridges and railroads. The Governor's Transportation Study Commission recommended increasing the fees for driver's licenses and vehicle registrations, among some possible solutions, because in both situations, we are among the lowest in the country. Would this be acceptable if all revenues were designated solely for transportation? Presently, $535 million of highway funds are used to fund the operations of the Pennsylvania State Police. Should we fund the PSP differently and use the highway money for highway purposes as intended?
6. What is your philosophy about taxation?
The best tax plan and tax reform the Legislature could achieve would be to cut and control spending. Shifting taxation is always a consideration, provided that an increase in one tax must be offset by a reduction in another. Elimination of property taxes is a fine concept provided that there is a comparable source of revenue to replace the revenue eliminated. I look at increasing taxation as the last resort.
7. How have you been campaigning?
I have done my work as a senator representing the people of the district and attended a few political events. Among many, in the past month I have: attended a Small Business Development Center luncheon in Union County; been a speaker at a Marcellus Shale seminar at Penn State; attended the Sullivan County Republican dinner; attended the fall luncheon of the Susquehanna County Republican Committee; attended the Lycoming County Republican picnic; chaired a Center for Rural Pennsylvania quarterly meeting; welcomed the Loyalsock Little League State Champions to Harrisburg; attended the "War on Coal" press conference; attended a meeting with the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association; been a speaker at the Union County Young Farmers dinner; been a speaker at the township officials annual meetings in Bradford, Union and Lycoming counties; attended the Lycoming County Republican Committee open house; attended the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Bastian Tire facility in Williamsport; interviewed with WPEL, Montrose; attended the Bradford County Republican Women luncheon; met with the South Williamsport High School American Politics class; attended the Susquehanna County League of Women Voters' forum and chaired a Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee hearing in State College.
State Senate candidate Gene Yaw answer Review questionnaire