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Kauffman faces challenge from Alosi in bid for 2nd term

October 20, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Republican state Rep. Rob Kauffman says he has bucked his party's leadership on key issues during his first term in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, including the controversial 2005 pay raise, while Democratic opponent Andrew Alosi says reforms in Harrisburg, Pa., have not gone far enough.

Kauffman, 32, and Alosi, 28, both of Chambersburg, are vying for the 89th District seat, representing portions of Franklin and Cumberland counties. The general election is Nov. 7.

"I voted against it. I didn't take it and I was one of a few legislators to stand up to all of my colleagues and sponsored the repeal legislation," Kauffman said of the repealed pay raise. "I've proven time and again I'll stand up to whomever is necessary in Harrisburg to advocate for the people of this district."

"The constitution says one thing and the legislature is doing something else" when it comes to paying representatives, Alosi said. Legislators are entitled to their salary and mileage reimbursement, but the perks have expanded over the years to include vehicles, per diems and other compensation, he said.

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"Rob Kauffman is taking full advantage of all those perks," said Alosi, a manager at the Cornell Abraxas Day Treatment Program. So far in his first term, Kauffman has taken more than $20,000 worth of those benefits, he said.

"I'm not going to accept them, I'm not even going to accept mileage until we push for some reforms," Alosi said.

Kauffman also opposed Act 1, the school property tax reform bill signed into law earlier this year, which shifts some of revenues for local school funding from real estate to income taxes and slot machine revenues.

"Most people will see virtually nothing in tax relief next year," said Kauffman, who had backed a proposal to broaden the state sales tax to fund schools. "We've got to reform the whole system, not just throw a little bit of gambling money at it."

"I've supported real property tax reform and that's elimination through the sales tax ... Folks like me are the only ones in the state with the guts to suggest an alternative plan," Kauffman said. "Others, like my opponent, have no plan. They just tag along behind our tax-and-spend governor, Ed Rendell."

Alosi called Act 1 "a step in the right direction, but we have a long way to go." He said the state should look at a Democratic plan to raise the state sales tax on current items half a percent, which he said could generate more than $700 million to fund schools.

Alosi opposes broadening the sales tax to include food, clothing or medicine.

If elected to a second term, Kauffman said one of his priorities is controlling state government spending.

"We've seen budgets grow by 28 percent in Pennsylvania since this governor took office," he said.

"Government is growing at an unprecedented rate and if liberal Democrats are in control in Harrisburg, taxes will grow at the same unprecedented rate," said Kauffman, who was a Greene Township supervisor before being elected to the House in 2004.

If elected, Alosi proposes limiting political action committee donations from outside a legislative district and not allowing PAC contributions from outside the state. Full financial disclosure should be required from lobbyists and legislators and there should be "serious penalties for violating that law," he said.

"I want to represent the people and not seem as though my vote is being bought," he said. "The people want assurances that their legislators are being held accountable."

The 89th District includes the boroughs of Chambersburg, Shippensburg and Orrstown; Greene, Letterkenny, Lurgan and Southampton townships and part of Guilford Township in Franklin County; and Southampton Township in Cumberland County.

Pennsylvania House members are paid $72,187.27 a year, according to the Office of the Chief Clerk.

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