Hall of Famer wants to play in Harrisburg

February 22, 2006|by DON AINES


The odds-on favorite for the Republican nomination for governor of Pennsylvania on Tuesday night told the party faithful in Franklin County that he can deliver the "Swann song" to Gov. Ed Rendell's political career.

"We can unseat Ed Rendell and give him what he really wants," Lynn Swann told a group of almost 500 people at the county Republican Committee's Lincoln Day Dinner. "He wants to be a commentator," Swann said of Rendell's Philadelphia Eagles post-game appearances on television.

"Hey, it's a great job, I did it for 29 years," the former Pittsburgh Steeler and NFL Hall of Fame wide receiver said.


Swann, 53, who is expected to easily win the GOP nomination in the May 16 primary, attacked Rendell's record on taxes and government spending, while proposing to cut taxes on businesses if elected in November.

"Ever since I've been here in 1974, I've heard people talk about property tax reform," said Swann. While offering no specifics about his property tax reform plan, Swann said Rendell offered Act 72, the tax relief legislation passed by the General Assembly, but rejected by most of the state's 501 school districts.

"I have an outline of an idea ... and before this idea is presented as a plan for property tax reform, there has to be input from people in the school boards, in school districts and a variety of other people," Swann said before his speech. At this point, he said the plan does not look at shifting the tax burden to sales or income taxes, he said.

Pennsylvania's corporate net income tax is the second highest in the nation, but Swann said the state ranks in the "low 40s" in job creation. He proposes reducing the tax rate from 9.9 percent to 5.9 percent over four years to generate business and job growth.

The candidate also said he favors accelerating elimination of the capital, stocks and franchise tax, which he said businesses pay on assets regardless of whether they show a profit.

"We're only one of a handful of states that have those taxes. We have both of them," Swann said before his speech.

In his address, Swann criticized Rendell for raising the personal income tax 10 percent, which one study suggests has cost the state 33,000 jobs. The candidate also bashed Rendell for transferring $500 million earmarked for road improvements to assist mass transit systems in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, saying the money would be better spent on the state's roads and bridges.

Swann took aim at Rendell's 2006-07 budget proposal, which he said raises spending by $1 billion over the current year.

"Where's the job growth to support it?" he asked.

"We also need to make sure that Pennsylvania does not spend money in government that far and away outpaces the rate of inflation," he said.

"My husband is a small-business man," Deborah Cline of Chambersburg said after the speech. Cline said she is sympathetic to Swann's proposals to cut taxes and his statement that he opposes abortion.

"I think he has exactly the vision the state needs. He sees it's a team effort," County Treasurer Dave Secor said.

"I think it's going to be an interesting race," said Robert Woods of Fannettsburg, Pa., a former county clerk of courts. "I think he'll be a good candidate and a good governor."

"He knows how to entertain people on Sundays," former Prothonotary John George of Chambersburg said. Swann's gridiron accomplishments could be indicative of what he can do in Harrisburg, George said.

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