Peters Patch: 2012 Election Guide

The candidates and issues most important to Peters Township voters in 2012.

As we look ahead to November’s elections, Peters Patch is devoted to bringing you the information you need about every race in town. Here's our start on the candidates and issues we'll be covering as November draws near. Bookmark this page for updates.

President Barack Obama versus former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

Pennsylvania has delivered its 20 electoral votes to the Democratic nominee for President in the last five elections, and if  hold steady, Mr. Obama will make it six in a row in November.

The president has not taken Pennsylvania’s support for granted, and has made  to western Pennsylvania in the past several years, even going as far as choosing Pittsburgh to host the G-20 summit in the fall of 2009. In his most  the president lobbied for his $447 billion dollar American Jobs Act, which continues to face an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled Congress.

The president has also sent what many consider his most potent weapon, his wife, to shore up support in the Pittsburgh area. First Lady Michelle Obama visited with service members of the 911th Airlift Wing and 171st Refuelding Wing in April. Vice President Joe Biden also visited the Moon Township base in May.

Mitt Romney is no stranger to the region either, even though  suggest the GOP nominee seems to place little importance on winning votes in Pennsylvania.

Romney  in October; the event was closed to the media.

He returned for an April , where he outlined his plans for the economy. “I’d like to reduce the burden on middle-income taxpayers,” Romney said. “I’d like to see anyone making $200,000-$250,000 or less—which is 98 percent of Americans—save their money tax-free. No capital gains. It’ll make filing taxes a lot easier and people can save money for things they care about."

Romney was back in Pittsburgh a month later, criticizing the president for the nation’s unemployment rate during a visit to a family-owned manufacturing plant in O’Hara.

Key Issues
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.”

Gov. 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.

Seats in the Pennsylvania House and Senate are also up for grabs, with several key issues for the candidates to consider. Among them:

U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy vs. Larry Maggi

In the 18th Congressional District, voters will have to choose between Republican incumbent and retired state police trooper and current Washington County Commissioner , a Democrat. To follow the Maggi campaign visit his website here, or the  he contributes to Peters Patch. For more information on Murphy, check out his website here.

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  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. " 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.

Marcellus Shale

residents are paying close attention to this energy resource, which can be found throughout Pennsylvania.

Marcellus Shale presents a large opportunity for Pennsylvanians to , but hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," is a controversial component of Marcellus Shale natural-gas drilling that has been linked to dangerous levels of pollution.

Because "fracking" near homes could adversely affect their property values, how difficult some local politicians make it for drillers to do business will go a long way toward determining those politicians' electability.

Economic development, education funding and health care also are concerns for local candidates.

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