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P.O. Box 615

Shippensburg, PA 17257

 

 

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Candidates for 89th state House district discuss issues

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Stay-at-home Shippensburg mom seeks 89th District state House seat

By VICKY TAYLOR
For Public Opinion

discount hollister hoodies Seeking her first public office, Democrat Susan Spicka feels career politicians are disconnected from their constituents and indifferent to the challenges facing Pennsylvania families.

She includes incumbent Rep. Rob Kauffman, R-Chambersburg, her opponent for the state House seat representing the 89th District, in that category.

"Sadly, our elected officials seem more interested in partisan games and protecting their own jobs and perks than seriously tackling issues," she said, accusing incumbents in Harrisburg of taking $52 a day in "taxpayer-funded lunch money" while slashing programs that help families.

That is one reason she decided to enter politics and try to unseat Kauffman, a four-term veteran.

"I'm not a career politician," she said. "I'm a mother and a wife who cares deeply about my family and our community."

It was Spicka's concern last year about the impact Gov. Tom Corbett's proposed budget was going to have on local schools that set her on the path to run for public office.

She attended a local school board budget and finance committee meeting, then became involved in a group that lobbied legislators and worked to highlight the problems local school districts would face if the Corbett budget were passed.

"Our goal was to highlight how difficult it would be for local schools to make up for the loss of state funding," she said.

Much to her dismay, Corbett's budget passed, supported by local legislators.

While she felt keen disappointment that the group's efforts did not have the impact she hoped they would, the experience became a motivator in her decision to get involved in the political process by running for office.

"I've never held political office, and I never intended to run to become a state representative," she said. "However, I believe it is time for a change in Harrisburg."

Spicka vows to work hard if elected, and reach out to both Democrats and Republicans to find what she calls "common-sense" solutions to the challenges she sees facing the state and its citizens.

She sees challenges on many fronts, from a need for job creation to strengthening the state's education system to infrastructure improvement.

The Legislature must find solutions for those problems while protecting the system that she calls the "safety net that aids our most vulnerable residents."

She says she would work to grow the local economy in an effort to create "family-supporting" jobs.

"We need to reinvest in our economy by supporting job training, strengthening our public schools and rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges," she said.

To do that, she believes legislative priorities need to be "reset."

"We need to control local property taxes by ensuring that large, profitable multinational corporations pay their fair share for public services," she said.

If elected, she would support a revision to state law to stop what she calls "excessive reimbursements" to charter schools. Those schools cost the state's school districts and public schools more than $350 million a year, she said.

"We need to use every single tax dollar wisely, and make tough choices about what is important and what is not," she said.

She said she is in the best position to do that by virtue of the fact that she is not a career politician with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.

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Susan Spicka, 38, Democrat, Shippensburg, stay-at-home mother and former high school English teacher.

Middleton High School graduate, Middleton, Wis. College degrees: bachelor's in classics, master's in ancient Greek, master of education in secondary English.

Family: Husband, Mark Spicka, two daughters.

No criminal record found.

Challenger Spicka blasts 'career politicians,' calls for change in Harrisburg.

Click here to read more.

Harrisburg Needs Kitchen-Table Conservatism

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE October 3, 2012
Friends of Susan Spicka
P.O. Box 615, Shippensburg, PA 17257
Media contacts: John Alosi (717) 360-1706 jrhipshoot@comcast.net

Harrisburg Needs Kitchen-Table Conservatism

At 12:00 on Wednesday, October 3, Susan Spicka held her second in a series of public forums on the Franklin County Court House steps and made the following remarks:

In these difficult times, it isn’t necessary to tell families in the 89th district what it means to be fiscally conservative.  Every day, families sit down at the kitchen tables and make difficult, heart-wrenching choice over how to do more with less, to keep food on the table, a roof over their heads, and fuel in their gas tanks. They expect thrift and prudence from our state government, and rightly so.   
Representative Rob Kauffman portrays himself as a fiscal conservative, but his voting record over the last two years tells a very different story. The heart of fiscal conservatism is about spending each and every one of our tax dollars wisely, and making tough choices to protect what is important and cut what is not.  Unfortunately, time after time, Representative Rob Kauffman’s record has displayed a disturbing willingness to squander taxpayer money on wasteful and unnecessary spending.


Let me give you a few examples.


First, the wasteful and insulting legislative per diems.  When families across the state are struggling to make ends meet, should Rob Kauffman really be expecting taxpayers to reimburse him and the other legislators $52 a day for lunch money on top of his yearly salary of $82,000? He knew this system was wrong, and repeatedly used it as an example of government waste when he first ran for office in 2004. Then, on the day he was first sworn into office on January 5, 2005, he applied for his first per diem.   Over the last eight years, he has personally collected over $34,000 in taxpayer money for his lunch and expenses, while other legislators—like Senator Richard Alloway—have chosen not to collect the per diems as a matter of principle. How can Rob Kauffman says there is no money for our schools, highways, or most vulnerable citizens, but then find money so that legislators can feast on lavish lunches at taxpayer expense?


As a taxpayer, I also find it simply incomprehensible that last year Representative Kauffman voted for a state budget that provided nearly $280 million in casino revenue to the PA Race Horse Development Fund.  Don’t get me wrong, I love horses.  But the horse racing industry is a privately owned industry that since 2009 has been receiving an average of $225 million dollars a year in public subsidies.  Eighty percent of that money is used to pay out larger purses to winning horses. 


This year, Governor Corbett wisely suggested using $72 million of that money to help fund other government priorities, but Representative Kauffman voted for a state budget that gave all the money back to the horse industry.  After nearly a billion dollars in public support, the horse industry should be able sustain itself without continuing to draw on hundreds of millions of dollars per year in public funds. After all, welfare should be a hand up, not a way of life, for Pennsylvania corporations.


On May 22, 2012, Rob Kauffman voted for yet another wasteful bill.  He voted for HB 1100 that exempted corporations and individuals purchasing new jet airplanes from paying state sales taxes—at a cost of $10-14 million dollars in lost tax revenue.  If you or I buy a new car, we have to pay sales tax. But Representative Kauffman saw it as a priority to give millionaire jet owners a new taxpayer subsidy.


For my final example, I wanted to touch on the issue of charter school funding—something that I plan to discuss in greater detail in coming weeks. Last spring, State Auditor General’s Office found that the state was paying charters school $3,000 per student more than it cost the schools to educate children.  Additionally, charter schools were “double dipping” their pension costs—getting reimbursed once by the school districts, and a second time by the state. 

Together, these overpayments cost taxpayers over $365 million per year.
On June 5, 2012, Republican Representative Mike Fleck introduced HB 2364, a common sense measure that would change the law so that school districts would only pay charter schools the true cost of educating students. Rob Kauffman has refused to sponsor that legislation—choosing instead to continue a system that wastes over $365 million dollars a year in taxpayer money.


We need to get some old-fashioned kitchen table conservatism back into Harrisburg.  Some things just don’t sit right with voters here in Franklin and Cumberland counties, and they shouldn’t:
•Do legislators need taxpayers to give them $52 a day for lunch?
•Do we want to spend $250 million per year of public money so that race horse owners take home bigger purses? 
•Should the government create a special loophole for millionaires to give them a taxpayer subsidy when buying a new jet?
•Should the school districts be forced to reimburse charter schools $3,000 more per student than it costs to educate those students?


I’ve knocked on thousands of doors and talked to thousands of voters. When we talk about Rob Kauffman’s record on the issues, I hear again and again, “That’s just not right.”  If I have the honor to represent the people of the 89th district, I will not forget the values that guide our family budgets. The heart of fiscal conservatism is about spending each and every one of our tax dollars wisely, and making tough choices to protect what is important and cut what is not.  And that’s what a fiscally responsible government would do too.


 I will bring some much-needed kitchen table conservatism to our state capitol, and when I see waste, or misguided spending, I will not be afraid to stand up and say loud and clear for all of us, “That’s just not right!” 

Susan Spicka Blasts Rob Kauffman’s Cowardice on Transportation Funding

Posted on September 27, 2012 by  #

Susan Spicka continues to dominate the race to be our favorite PA House candidate this cycle:

HD-89: Susan Spicka hosted a solo forum on the issue of transportation, she says because her opponent, Rep. Rob Kauffman (R-Franklin), won’t agree to another debate. “Today, our state has over 4,700 structurally deficient bridges, and over 9,300 miles of state roads that should have been resurfaced. 44 of the 323 bridges in Franklin County are structurally deficient, as are 43 of the 370 bridges in Cumberland County. These numbers are simply unacceptable,” she said. She criticized Kauffman for not introducing a transportation funding bill – something that would be highly unusual for Kauffman or any member not on the Transportation committee.

agree with Keegan Gibson that it would be strange for Kauffman to introduce a standalone bill, but it would’ve been useful to point out that there are plenty of plans in the legislature for Kauffman to choose from.

It might be more effective for Susan to point out that House Democrats introduced Tom Corbett’s very own Transportation Funding panel’s recommendations as a bill already. The Corbett plan is out there, it has bipartisan support, but Rob Kauffman has failed to co-sponsor it or endorse it or anything. Just like Corbett, he’s refusing to take any responsibility for this problem.

To read more on http://www.keystonepolitics.com/ click here.

Spicka: If Kauffman won’t talk, I will

Candidate hosts courthouse steps forum

By DALE HEBELIG
Managing Editor
Published: Monday, September 24, 2012 2:25 PM EDT
Susan Spicka says if Rep. Rob Kauffman won’t debate, she’ll take the liberty of speaking for him.

Spicka, a Democrat candidate for Kauffman’s 89th District House of Representatives seat in November, says she’ll speak on the Franklin County Courthouse steps at noon Wednesday, Sept. 26, detailing her position on transportation spending and reviewing Kauffman’s voting record on the subject.

The forum is the first of a series of forums Spicka says she plans to offer since Kauffman refuses to join in a public exchange.

“In a representative democracy, voters deserve the opportunity to know and evaluate the candidates’ views on the issues,” Spicka says. “Unfortunately, Representative Kauffman has declined any and all offers to participate in a joint public forum between now and Election Day, thus denying voters an opportunity to hear our views on the issues. As a service to the voters of the 89th District, I will provide detailed information about my positions on issues and Representative Kauffman’s legislative record. My hope is to help give voters information that will help them to make an informed decision on Election Day.”

Earlier this month Kauffman refused a debate offer from the Shippensburg University Student Association, calling the debate proposal a “publicity stunt.” Among the proposed sponsors of the debate were campus Democrat and Republican groups and the nonpartisan Ship Votes organization.

Spicka says Kauffman also refused an offer last week from WGAL TV-8 to participate in a televised candidates forum.

WGAL assignment editor Sam Stoia said Monday that Kauffman had originally declined the offer, but there are now negotiations underway to find a time when Kauffman “would have time” for the telecast.

Spicka says her goal is an open exchange of ideas and positions.

“Rather than making this election about political labels, robo-calls, and sound-bites, I would like thoughtful voters of the 89th district to have an opportunity to participate in a meaningful, issue-driven campaign,” she says. “Whether or not they choose to vote for me, I hope voters will be in a position to make an informed decision about which candidate’s policy positions will be best for the future of our state and communities.”

To read more on Shippensburg News Chronicle click here

Rep. Rob Kauffman Calls Shippensburg University Students “Unprofessional”

Posted on September 22, 2012 by  #

As is becoming a trend across the Commonwealth, Republican Representative Rob Kauffman is refusing to debate his Democratic opponent, Susan Spicka.

This is not surprising.  Yet, Kauffman brought debate-dodging to a new low by not just declining to debate Spicka, but by berating the non-partisan group that made the grave mistake of cordially inviting him.

The most recent debate dodged by the Kauffman campaign was hosted by the Shippensburg University Student Association, Shippensburg’s student government organization.

Shippensburg Student Association President Ethan Goldbach invited Rep. Kauffman to a debate that would be sponsored by the student government group and hosted by both the Shippensburg College Republicans and the Shippensburg College Democrats.

Despite the non-partisan nature of the event, Kauffman refused, and the proceeded to berate Goldbach in an email, telling Goldbach that his invitation was “not only unfortunate but unprofessional.” Kauffman intimated to Goldbach that he “immediately call[ed] the intentions of event into question.”

From the looks of it, Kauffman has adopted an innovative new campaign strategy in which he makes every effort to infuriate and disrespect students in a Presidential election year–you know, the only cycles in which students actually show up and vote.

The race for the 89th is turning into a case study in campaign melt-downs.

Under almost no circumstance should a Democrat be able to win in the 89th General Assembly district, but when an incumbent Republican makes a comically long series of missteps and the Democrat is at the top of her game, it begins to look possible.

To read more on http://www.keystonepolitics.com/ click here

Rep. Kauffman says there’s no reason for another debate

Blames mail delivery failure, liberal faculty views for refusal

By DALE HEBERLIG
Managing Editor

Published: Thursday, September 20, 2012 3:19 PM EDT

Efforts to schedule a Shippensburg University debate between incumbent state Rep. Rob Kauffman (R-89) and Democrat challenger Susan Spicka prior to the Nov. 6 general election appear to be dead.

Kauffman refuses to be involved, calling the debate proposal a “publicity stunt” and chastising SU Student Association President Ethan Goldbach for an “unprofessional;” approach to the debate request.

The SU student Association – in cooperation with Republican and Democrat student groups and the nonpartisan Ship Votes organization – asked the two candidates to agree to a debate in invitations mailed Sept. 7. The invitation suggested that SU faculty members could moderate the debate, but clearly offered both candidates the opportunity to suggest their own candidates to moderate the debate.

Spicka says she received the letter Sept. 11, and immediately agreed to the debate proposal.

Kauffman contends he never received the invitation and learned of the debate initiative through the press when contacted for his response Sept. 17 – 10 days after Goldbach says the invitation was mailed.

Goldbach received a response from Kauffman after establishing contact this week in a Tuesday, Sept. 18, e-mail. In that message, Goldbach said he was sorry Kauffman concluded the debate was a publicity stunt, and assured the Representative it was not a stunt and that Spicka and “her friends” did not motivate the invitation. Rather, he said, the debate proposal grew out of requests from partisan and nonpartisan student groups interested in “seeing your presence on our campus.”

Kauffman flatly refused to participate in an SU venue debate, suggesting the debate proposal is a liberal university faculty trap and insisting that an earlier radio debate between the two candidates is all the insight voters need.

Kauffman’s e-mail to Goldbach in verbatim form reads: “Thank you for finally reaching out to me regarding this invitation, as I have received nothing from you to date. It is not only unfortunate but unprofessional that I learn about an invitation, such as this, through the press. That immediately calls the intentions of event into question and, therefore, I stand by my public decision and statement.

“I attend events and speak to classes at Shippensburg University on a fairly regular basis. I enjoy the one on one interaction with members of the student body. But I'm certain you are aware that my opponent's husband is an SU professor. Many of her campaign volunteers are SU professors and the professor's union has formally endorsed her. My opponent and I had a debate on July 9th that was the most highly publicized and distributed debate in the history of the 89th district. I am aware how plugged in the University community is to social media and online information. So this seemed to be the best format possible, as this debate is still posted online and on social media. Debate situations are generally attended by partisans. I recognize how difficult it is to get uncommitted voters to attend. So having our July 9th debate posted online has the potential to reach far more uncommitted students at SU. So I respectfully decline your invitation. Instead, I'll be fulfilling my duties as State Representative and continuing to talk to the voters about how we can continue to improve the job climate, grow our economy and reduce the tax burden on Pennsylvania's families and seniors.

“A recording of the debate is available at: www.Facebook.com/RepKauffman

http://soundcloud.com/jbt-recording/rep-rob-kauffman-susan-spicka.”

The response mirrors Kauffman’s e-mail remarks made to The News-Chronicle late in the day Sept. 17.

The failure of mail delivery to Kauffman is much like the events that preceded the July debate when Kauffman says he never received Spicka’s debate invitation, despite her claims that she used e-mail, U.S. mail, Facebook and phone messages to contact the Representative.

Not surprisingly, Spicka is critical of Kauffman’s rebuke.

She said, “Representative Kauffman’s response was very disrespectful to the student organizations at Shippensburg University that came together to offer us the opportunity to debate on campus. It is troubling that our state representative would dismiss this non-partisan invitation from students as a ‘publicity stunt’.

“I believe that our public officials should encourage the civic engagement of all of their constituents, particularly young people who may be voting for the first time.”

To read more click here to view the article on the Shippensburg News-Chronicle

Rep. Kauffman declines second debate after hearing about it from the media

By Jim Hook

Date:   09/19/2012 05:38:43 PM EDT


SHIPPENSBURG -- There will not be a second debate between state Rep. Rob Kauffman, R-Chambersburg, and Democratic challenger Susan Spicka.

Ethan Goldbach, president of the Shippensburg University Student Association, had invited the two to hold a debate on the campus of Shippensburg University before Election Day. Spicka accepted, but Kauffman refused.

Kauffman said he learned about the debate through the media.

Goldbach said identical letters were mailed to the candidates on Sept. 7. Spicka announced in an e-mail on Sunday that she would attend.

Kauffman responded to a reporter's e-mail on Monday:

"As before, the press is learning of this event prior to me even receiving an invitation. This is just another publicity stunt by my opponent and a few of her friends at Shippensburg University. My opponent's husband is an SU professor. Many of her campaign volunteers are SU professors and the professor's union has formally endorsed her liberal agenda. Our July 9 debate was the most highly publicized and distributed debate in the history of the 89th district. If the University community is interested in learning about the issues, the July 9 debate is recorded and still posted online and on social media."

Kauffman sent a similar response on Wednesday to Goldbach.

"It is not only unfortunate but unprofessional that I learn about an invitation, such as this, through the press," he stated in an e-mail that Goldbach forwarded to Public Opinion. "That immediately calls the intentions of event into question and, therefore, I stand by my public decision and statement ....

"Debate situations are generally attended by partisans. I recognize how difficult it is to get uncommitted voters to attend. So having our July 9th debate posted online has the potential to reach far more uncommitted students at SU."

"Rep. Kauffman has once again refused the invitation to debate," Goldbach said. "I wish both of the candidates the best of luck in their election."

Spicka said she was disappointed in Kauffman's response that was "very disrespectful" to SU student organizations who cooperated to host a debate. "It is troubling that our state representative would dismiss this non-partisan invitation from students as a 'publicity stunt,'" Spicka said. "I believe that our public officials should encourage the civic engagement of all of their constituents, particularly young people who may be voting for the first time."

Spicka said previously that she was "delighted" with the SU students' invitation and had hoped to discuss funding for higher education, a subject not discussed in the first debate.

A recording of the debate can be heard at http://soundcloud.com/jbt-recording/rep-rob-kauffman-susan-spicka.

To read more click here

Kaufman again says no to debate proposal

Calls proposal another ‘publicity stunt’

By DALE HEBERLIG
Managing Editor

Published: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 1:55 PM EDT

State Rep. Rob Kauffman (R-89) again says he will not share his views in a “publicity stunt” debate proposed by Shippensburg University students.

Furthermore, Kauffman says he never even received the debate invitation that was mailed out Sept. 8.

“As before, the press is learning of this event prior to me even receiving an invitation,” Kauffman said in an e-mail sent late Monday afternoon – after Susan Spicka, his Democrat challenger for the state house seat, announced she accepted the debate invitation. Spicka said she received her invitation in the U.S. mail Sept. 11 and immediately accepted the debate proposal.

The debate proposal was extended by Shippensburg University Student Association President Ethan Goldbach, in cooperation with SU Democratic and Republican student groups and the nonpartisan Ship Votes organization, but Kauffman says the idea reeks of left wing politics, nonetheless.

“This is just another publicity stunt by my opponent and a few of her friends at Shippensburg University,” Kauffman said in his e-mail. “My opponent's husband is an SU professor. Many of her campaign volunteers are SU professors and the professor's union has formally endorsed her liberal agenda. Our July 9th debate was the most highly publicized and distributed debate in the history of the 89th district. If the University community is interested in learning about the issues, the July 9th debate is recorded and still posted online and on social media. Rather than focusing on publicity stunts, I'll be fulfilling my duties as State Representative and continuing to talk to the voters about how we can continue to improve the job climate, grow our economy and reduce the tax burden on Pennsylvania's families and seniors."

Kauffman and Spicka engaged in a debate (it was actually July 11) broadcast on FM 103.7, although Kauffman first cried foul and pointedly rejected Spicka’s original debate offer, calling a debate a “staged political event.” He later reconsidered when FM 103.7 radio personality Kelly Spinner made the debate offer.

Goldbach said Tuesday he would try to contact Kauffman by phone.

Spicka says she is mystified by her opponent’s aversion to debate.

She said a debate on the SU campus would be especially useful for the community, “considering we did not get an opportunity to discuss funding for higher education at our first debate.”

Kauffman says the July 11 debate between Kauffman and Spicka can be heard atwww.Facebook.com/RepKauffman or at http://soundcloud.com/jbt-recording/rep-rob-kauffman-susan-spicka.

To read more click here

University organizers pursued Kauffman-Spicka debate

Published: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 1:44 PM EDT

Shippensburg University student groups are pursuing a pre-election debate featuring incumbent state Rep. Rob Kauffman (R-89) and his Democrat challenger Susan Spicka.

Shippensburg University Student Association President Ethan Goldbach, said Monday that Spicka has accepted the invitation, but that he is waiting to hear Kauffman’s response to the Sept. 11 invitation.

The campus Republican and Democrat organizations and the nonpartisan Ship Votes groups are working with the Student Association to facilitate the debate on a date prior to the Nov. 6 general election.

The organizers suggest an SU political science faculty member as moderator, but say they welcome candidates suggested by Kauffman or Spicka.

Spicka says she welcomes the debate opportunity.

“I am delighted to see that Shippensburg University students are taking steps to be engaged in the democratic process by hosting a forum where both students and community members may come, ask questions, and learn where we candidates stand on the issues,” she said in a release. “I would be honored to have this opportunity to share my ideas, listen to the students’ and the public’s concerns, and to engage Representative Kauffman in a productive discussion about the critical issues facing our state. It is particularly fitting for us to do this at Shippensburg University considering we did not get an opportunity to discuss funding for higher education at our first debate.”

To Read more Click here

ABC 27 WHTM - CHALLENGER BLASTS MIDSTATE INCUMBENT OVER...

"Susan Spicka led a brown bag brigade on the steps of the Franklin County Courthouse in Chambersburg Thursday afternoon. It was a paper protest of Republican state Rep. Rob Kauffmans's use of partial per diems."

UPDATE: Kauffman responds to Spicka's charge that $52 a day for expenses is "unconstitutional"

CHAMBERSBURG -- Susan Spicka, Democratic candidate for the 89th House District, is taking opponent Rep. Rob Kauffman, R-Chambersburg, to task for collecting unvouchered "lunch money" at taxpayer expense.

"When families across the state are struggling to make ends meet, should Rob Kauffman really be expecting taxpayers to reimburse him and the other legislators $52 a day for lunch on top of his yearly salary of $82,000?" said Spicka, a Shippensburg education activist. "How can Rob Kauffman says there is no money for our schools, highways, or neediest citizens, but then find money so that legislators can feast on lavish lunches at taxpayer expense? Is that really an appropriate or prudent use of our precious tax dollars?"

At 12:30 p.m. Thursday on the Franklin County Courthouse steps on Memorial Square in Chambersburg, Spicka is to announce her concern with Kauffman's practice of collecting $52 a day of taxpayer money to reimburse him for his personal expenses and lunch when the legislature is in session.

Kauffman said Spicka's argument is a distraction from the real issues of the campaign.

Kauffman currently collects $52 a day as part of a system of unvouchered per diems that are disbursed out of a state-funded House account controlled by legislative leaders, she said. He regularly collects the $52 per diem whenever the legislature is in session. Neither Kauffman nor other legislators are required to provide receipts to show that they are spending the per diem funds on food or business-related expenses. They also receive the money tax free. Some legislators, such as Republican Senator Richard Alloway, refuse to apply for the per diems.

Kauffman had made the system of unvouchered per diems a major issue in his first campaign against Democrat Doug Harbach in 2004, citing the program as a prime example of wasteful government spending. Upon being elected, Kauffman began collecting the per diems himself. In fact, the first $47 per diem he collected was for his meals and expenses incurred on January 4, 2005, the day he was sworn into office.

"The state constitution, Article II, section 8, is crystal clear in stating that legislators should receive their salary and mileage and no other compensation whatever," Spicka said. "The system of unvouchered per diems in not only unconstitutional, it is insulting to taxpayers who would like to see their legislators leading by example in these tough economic times. Representative Kauffman opposed per diems when he first ran for office in 2004, but he forgot about his opposition the moment he set foot on the House floor."

Kauffman responded Wednesday with a statement: "While the critical issues are creating jobs, improving the economy and reducing the tax burden on Pennsylvania's families and senior citizens, my opponent continues to try to distract from her liberal agenda. These legitimate reimbursements are provided for in House Rules, by the IRS, and through long-settled ruling of Constitutionality by the courts. My salary goes to support my wife and four children. These reimbursements go toward the unreimbursed and unique daily expenses of being a legislator."

Spicka has a list of Kauffman's legislator expenses.

"It is hard for legislators to understand the challenges facing working families when they live in a bubble in Harrisburg with their generous expense accounts and taxpayer-funded meals and gas," said Spicka. "That is why if I have the honor to represent the people of the 89th District, I will pack my own lunch, drive my own car, and pay for my own gas when I drive to work - just like Cumberland and Franklin Counties' working families. And I will work to bring an end to taxpayer funded lunch-money for legislators."

Spicka said she is inviting all residents of the 89th District to post ideas for packed lunches on her Facebook page, to help Kauffman and other legislators who may have forgotten how to brown bag it.

Read more on the Public Opinion Website

Brenize supports Spicka in 89th District race

SHIPPENSBURG -- Steven Brenize, the Independent candidate in the 89th House District race, announced on Friday that he has withdrawn from the race and will support Democrat Susan Spicka.

Shippensburg Borough Council President Andrea Lage and other Shippensburg residents attended the event.

Spicka, an education activist from Shippensburg, is running against incumbent Rep. Rob Kauffman, R-Chambersburg.

Steven Brenize is a member of Shippensburg council. His comments:
"As the campaign for the 89th district wore on, it has become apparent that my continued candidacy will serve as a spoiler in the race to unseat the incumbent. I am left with the choice to merely drop out of the race or to endorse the other challenger. Directly after the debate earlier this month, that decision was made for me by the way Rep. Kauffman continues to misrepresent himself.

"Mr. Kauffman said, and I quote, 'It is her willingness to lie, along with the fact that this debate showed the clear difference between my fiscally conservative record and her liberal agenda that negates the need for any future debates.'

"Let me make it clear: A fiscal conservative does not take $52 a day for lunches while people in his district are unemployed. A fiscal conservative does not continue to enact laws that do nothing but create additional expenses for local communities. A fiscal conservative does not see a budget crisis on the horizon and refuse to act. A fiscal conservative does not make backroom deals with oil drilling companies to enact laws that strip the rights of local municipalities. A fiscal conservative does not safely vote against budgets year after year and then vote for most of the additional appropriation bills. A fiscal conservative does not accept a pension that is drastically underfunded at the expense of future taxpayers. And lastly a fiscal conservative does not brag about his ability to bring back the bacon; he works to keep people's money in the district in the first place. Rob Kauffman's record, when one does the research instead of just listening to the words that come out of his mouth, shows where his true interests lie. "I have looked at Susan Spicka's proposals and do not see a liberal agenda, what I see is a desire to fix problems, problems that have existed in our commonwealth for the entire time the incumbent has been in office. I see a citizen ready to go to Harrisburg and take the views of the district with her, not a career politician content to spin lies to keep himself in office.

"So today I officially end my campaign with the following, I will personally be voting for Susan Spicka, I may not agree with her 100%, but I will support a local citizen whose concerns are her friends and neighbors in the district, rather than a career politician who is more concerned about the agenda of the state party and finding great photo ops, than the needs of those he is elected to represent."

Spicka's comments:
"I would like to thank Steven for coming out today to publicly support my campaign. I respect Steven's deep commitment to our community. Steven serves as a member of the Shippensburg Borough Council where he dedicates many hours to learning about issues that affect us locally. He fought very strongly for the repeal of part of Act 13 that would have stripped local municipalities of control over zoning rights. Thanks to his efforts and the efforts of many others, a Pennsylvania court just overturned that part of the law so that our local communities can retain control over how their land is used.

"Steven is also a board member for Post Now PA and spends a lot of his time promoting cultural and economic development in our region with this group.

"While Steven and I may not agree on all of the issues, we do share a commitment to serving the people in our communities. When I talk to voters in the district many of them agree that we need new priorities in Harrisburg and strong leadership on issues important to our communities and working families. They agree that we need to restore funding for public education, rebuild our state's crumbling infrastructure, protect essential human services that serve our most state's most vulnerable citizens, and fight for tax fairness.

"I am not running for office because I want a cushy job for the rest of my life. I am running so that I can serve the people of this district as a citizen legislator and be a strong voice for our children and our communities for no more than four terms. If voters in the 89th District give me the honor of representing them in Harrisburg, I promise that I will work hard every day to represent their interests in Harrisburg.

"So, I want to thank Steven again for his support and say that I am very excited that voters in our district will be able to make a choice this fall and choose the person that they believe will best represent them in Harrisburg."

For the original article on the Public Opinion's web site click here

Recording of Spicka-Kauffman Debate 7/11/12

Representative Kauffman Legislator Expenses January, 2005-June, 2012

These documents are public record and available freely from the House Clerk’s Office.

Click here for the link to document

PO GUEST ESSAY: Budget reflects state government's priorities problem

By SUSAN SPICKA

Budgets are about priorities, and the 2012-2013 budget recently passed by the Pennsylvania Legislature demonstrates that the priorities of our elected officials are woefully misguided.

Despite all the rhetoric about limited resources and making difficult choices, our legislators still found $1.4 million to give themselves a fat pay raise and to upgrade their health insurance plans. That amount divided evenly among the 203 state representatives yields an increase in annual compensation of over $6,000 per year per legislator.

That comes on top of their salary of $82,026, not to mention their generous health and pension benefits, and the additional $159 per day of tax-free money they can claim when the legislature is in session. At a time when other Pennsylvanians are seeing their pay and benefits cut, and families are struggling to make ends meet, the legislature's vote to increase their own bloated salaries is truly outrageous.

This is the same legislature that just voted to eliminate General Assistance, the state program that provided a meager $204 a month to the state's neediest and most vulnerable residents who had no other source of income. Over 68,000 people survived on that $204 a month - people with severe mental and physical disabilities, children, survivors of domestic violence, and individuals who could not work because they were caring for a sick or disabled family member.

There is something desperately wrong with our political system when our politicians can find money to raise their own salaries, but not to lend a hand to decent, hard-working families when they suddenly get sick or fall on hard times.

Part of the reason there is not enough money is because our representatives voted to give $288 million in new tax breaks to large, profitable corporations. The legislature also failed to take action to close the "Delaware Loophole" that allows 70 percent of Pennsylvania's profitable, multistate corporations to evade their taxes by opening a post office box in Delaware. That loophole cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue, and it's simply not fair to families and businesses that meet their obligations and pay their fair share of taxes.

The legislature also voted to fulfill Gov. Tom Corbett's request for $1.6 billion in tax credits for Royal Dutch shell - a company that made $31 billion in profits last year, and might bring 400-500 permanent jobs to the Pittsburgh area at a cost of over $3.3 million per job.

That is an obscene case study of precisely how we should not be doing economic development in Pennsylvania.

Rather than supporting locally owned businesses that are currently operating in Pennsylvania, and helping them to grow their operations, find new customers, develop new products, or build new factories, our representatives voted to give more than a billion and a half dollars of corporate welfare to a hugely profitable, foreign corporation based on vague promise of future jobs.

The budget locks in last year's draconian cuts in state funding to our public schools. The only "increase" in state funding to our local schools is the additional money the state is legally required to pay into the retirement system to make up for years of underfunding.

This budget also fails to address the seriously flawed cyber charter school funding formula. The state auditor general has determined that it costs $3,000 for a cyber school to educate a child. Our local school districts are required to pay $7,000-18,000 in tuition per student. Last year the Chambersburg and Shippensburg school districts paid over $2.4 million to cyber schools, most of which are for-profit companies.

This budget does nothing to provide any meaningful, long-term relief for the fiscal crisis facing our public schools. Next year, we can expect to see more programs eliminated, more staff and teacher cuts, more large classes for students, higher property taxes, and fewer educational opportunities for our children and grandchildren.

Even when it comes to something as basic as fixing our state's thousands of miles of poor quality roads or 4,800 structurally deficient bridge - including the 343 failing bridges right here in Franklin County - our representatives insist that there is not enough money. So our roads continue to deteriorate, making it more difficult for businesses to move their goods, and leaving the rest of us to hope for the best each time we drive across one of our state's aging bridges.

We don't have a funding problem in Pennsylvania, we have a priorities problem.

I opposed this budget, and given the opportunity, I would have voted against it. After November, should I have the honor and privilege to represent the people of the 89th District in the General Assembly, you can rest assured that I will never vote to raise my own pay and that I will work tirelessly to advocate for policies that truly serve the interests of the people and communities of Franklin and Cumberland counties.

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Susan Spicka of Shippensburg is the Democratic candidate for state representative in the 89th House District.

Click here for the article on Public Opinion

Democrat Spicka opens campaign headquarters in Shippensburg cottage

 

By AMBER SOUTH
Staff writer

SHIPPENSBURG — Nearly 50 people — and the large variety of desserts and snacks they brought with them — gathered Wednesday evening to recognize the opening of Democrat Susan Spicka’s campaign headquarters.

Campaign cottage may actually a more apt title, for the headquarters at 301 N. Fayette St. is not the stark environment most people would probably think of. The small house, donated to Spicka’s campaign committee by the treasurer’s parents, has a large yard and sits beside a pond. Located off a kitchen is a room where about five volunteers gather Tuesday and Thursday evenings to make phone calls to spread the word about Spicka’s campaign for the 89th District seat in the state House of Representatives.

“We can come here together and have snacks and share meals and talk and be together as a community, and that makes a big difference for volunteers,” Spicka said. “It’s really nice to just feel like we’re part of a big community doing this together.”

During the opening celebration, children played together along the pond bank while their parents mingled. Another group of people were playing Bocce, and others made use of the horseshoe pit.

Many of the volunteers have never worked on a campaign committee before, so Spicka hopes the state of the headquarters will make their jobs easier.

“A lot of the headquarters seem to be on storefronts on downtown streets and we are really excited to have a place where volunteers can come and have their children play outside,” she said. “It’s just a much more family-friendly place for people who have not worked on campaigns before.”

Steve Burg, Shippensburg, is a member of the campaign committee. This is his first time on a state campaign, but he has worked for school board campaigns in the past. He thinks the headquarters will give volunteers and the campaign they are working for an extra boost.

“I think it just gives the campaign added energy and hopefully will really help the campaign get to the next level,” he said.

John Alosi, campaign manager, thinks the atmosphere will help volunteers see that they are appreciated.

“It’s kind of vibrant and friendly and I think it will make people be more relaxed if they come here. By just looking at it they won’t feel like they are a number,” he said.

According to a press release prior to the event, Spicka did not intend to open a headquarters until August but it was realized that space was needed sooner.

“The number of people who are eager to work on the campaign right now simply exceeded our expectations. It’s a problem we’re happy to have,” Alosi said in the press release.

Spicka is running against Rep. Rob Kauffman, R-Chambersburg.

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Amber South can be reached at asouth@publicopinionnews.com, 262-4771, or follow her on Twitter @ShipNewsGirl.

Source Ship News Now - Your Shippensburg News Source

Keystone Research Center honors local education advocates

Keystone Research Center honors local education advocates

Date:   06/08/2012 10:16:56 AM EDT

HARRISBURG - Local public education advocates Susan Spicka and Erica Burg were honored Thursday evening at the Keystone Research Center's 2012 Annual Awards Dinner as two of a group of Citizen Activists for Education. The awards were given to individuals who have organized an event or action in their local community to raise awareness, create dialogue and mobilize a community response to harmful state budget cuts to public education.

"We are proud to receive this award on behalf of all the parents, students, and community members in the Cumberland Valley who have worked so hard over the last year and a half to stand up for our children and our public schools. We received the plaques, but the honor belongs to all of us," said Spicka.

Burg and Spicka are co-founders of Education Matters in the Cumberland Valley, a grassroots organization focused on advocating for policies that support public education. The group worked with local parents and community members to send hundreds of letters and make hundreds of phone calls to local legislators urging them to support public education. The organization also worked with education advocates throughout Pennsylvania to organize the Pennsylvania Statewide (Mock) Bake Sale Week to demonstrate that the state funding cuts were so large that local boosters and PTOs would be unable to make up the difference.

"We are proud of the work that we have done in the last year, but we need to keep advocating for our public schools," said Burg. "Thegovernor's budget for next year includes new state funding cuts on top of the $900 million cut last year. Under the governor's budget proposal, the Chambersburg and Shippensburg School Districts will receive less state funding in 2013 than they received in 2008. Schools are cutting teachers, cutting programs, eliminating kindergarten, and raising property taxes. Unless Harrisburg restores funding and gets pension costs under control, schools in Cumberland and Franklin Counties will look very different in a year or two, and it will be our children and our communities that suffer."

 

Kauffman Reverses Himself and Decides to Debate

COUNTERPOINT: Spicka - Voters will benefit now that Kauffman has 'seen the light' on debate

Conent from http://www.publicopiniononline.com/opinion/ci_20605490/counterpoint-spicka-voters-will-benefit-now-that-kauffman
By SUSAN SPICKA Fewer than two weeks after publicly refusing to debate me and denouncing public debates as "political showmanship," Rep. Rob Kauffman has reversed himself and agreed to participate in what I hope will be one of several debates between us this year.

The first debate is going to take place on 103.7 FM later this spring, although the exact time and format are yet to be finalized.

I am delighted that Rob Kauffman has finally seen the light and decided to give the voters of the 89th District an opportunity to learn where we stand on the issues and to have the opportunity to ask us tough questions about our positions.

This is great for the voters of the district, and great for democracy.

I invited Rob Kauffman to debate the day after the April primary election.

Kauffman did not respond to my invitation, and instead sent a strongly worded email to the press denouncing debates, because he claimed to "speak with the peopleof the 89th District every day."

He also derided debates for their "shallowness." He dismissed the value of what he dismissed as a "staged-political event."

I don't know why Rob Kauffman had this sudden and dramatic change of heart, but I'm glad he recognized that he made a mistake.

I'm looking forward to a lively series of debates this year so that we can discuss the big issues facing our state, such as creating jobs, adequately funding our public schools, keeping college affordable, fixing our crumbling roads and bridges, sustaining vital human service programs, and getting property taxes under control.

Even though it has been almost two weeks since I sent my original invitation to Rob Kauffman, he has yet to contact me directly to acknowledge or respond to my invitation.

I learned of Kauffman's change of heart indirectly from the staff at the radio station who informed me that Rob Kauffman had agreed to a debate.

When the radio station confirmed that he indeed had changed his position, I eagerly agreed to the joint appearance.

Now that Rob Kauffman realizes that debates are a good idea, I hope that he will pick up the phone and give me a call so that we can set up a series of debates across the district and start a thoughtful conversation with voters about the serious challenges facing our state and our community.

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Susan Spicka, Shippensburg, is the Democratic nominee for the 89th District seat being contested in the November elections.

Spicka’s Response to Kauffman’s Refusal to Debate

Susan Spicka

Published: Monday, May 7, 2012 1:25 PM EDT
On Tuesday, April 25, the day after I officially became the Democratic nominee for the 89th District of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, I contacted Rob Kauffman to invite him to join me in a series of conversations across the district. I sent him a letter by United States mail, I sent a message to him through his Facebook page, I personally visited his district office, and I left a message on his home answering machine. I could have understood if he had sent back a short note saying “no thank you” or “let’s wait until after the House is out of session,” or “let’s discuss this.” Instead, he never gave me the courtesy of a response.

Rather than contacting me directly in a civil manner, Rob Kauffman chose to write a scathing message to a local reporter questioning my motives and attacking the idea of debates as “political theater.” He stated that he preferred to have a contact with voters “unfiltered by the media, academia, and liberal partisans who enjoy the showmanship and shallowness of a political debate.” I am not sure why he responded with such anger and defensiveness to this invitation or why he viewed it as a personal attack.

Debates are a well-established tradition in American politics. American candidates going back to Abraham Lincoln have regularly joined in this form of political conversation. Over the last year, the Republican presidential primary included 19 candidate debates. These introduced the public to the candidates and gave voters the opportunity to compare candidates’ positions and learn first-hand where they stood on the issues. So Rob Kauffman’s unwillingness to debate is certainly puzzling.

If there was ever a time for a frank, open discussion about the future of the state, that time is now. We face a series of unprecedented challenges ranging from persistent unemployment to the challenge of adequately funding our public schools to the looming disaster of our state’s 5,000 aging and structurally deficient roads and bridges. How are we going to keep college affordable for working families? How are we going to maintain quality public services for our communities? How are we going to control skyrocketing local property taxes? Where do we cut? What is important to us?

I know that Rob Kauffman and I have different perspectives on these issues, and that is what makes a series of public debates so important this year.

Elections are more than a time when citizens go to the polls and vote. They are also an opportunity for communities to think deeply about the issues that matter and to consider the options that lie before us. This year, voters deserve a substantive discussion that details the nature of the challenges facing the state. We deserve a meaningful conversation that provides all of us with quality information about the available options and involves everyone in the conversation.

I worry that Rob Kauffman’s unwillingness to engage in a civil discussion about the issues facing our state and communities reflects the larger polarization of American society. This may be old fashioned, but I don’t see people as only Democrats or Republicans, red or blue. I see us all as Americans, all part of one community and one nation. If you have a good idea, I want to hear it regardless of your political views. If you disagree with me, I want to listen and understand your point of view.

That is why I would encourage Rob Kauffman to reconsider his hasty decision and instead to join me for a series of debates between now and November. Such a conversation will be good for our district and good for democracy. Representative Kauffman, I will be awaiting your call.
Kauffman Refuses to Debate Spicka

Rep. Kauffman says 'no' to debate

By Jim Hook, Senior writer
Content from http://www.publicopiniononline.com/localnews/ci_20517313/rep-kauffman-says-no-debate
State Rep. Rob Kauffman, R-Chambersburg, has declined his challenger's invitation to a debate.

"My forum for answering the questions of voters is where it has always been: In their living rooms, in their businesses, in their community centers and more," Kauffman said in a statement to Public Opinion. "I do not need a staged-political event to continue that effort."

Susan Spicka, the Democrats' nominee for the 89th District seat, said on Monday afternoon that she had learned of Kauffman's refusal through the media, but he had not contacted her.

"I guess I'm disappointed," she told a reporter. "It's a very productive thing for candidates to talk about their views, and voters can make up their minds. I'm hopeful as time goes on Rep. Kauffman will change his mind, that he would like to engage in a conservation and let voters know where he stands." The day after the two candidates won their parties' respective nominations in the Primary Election, Spicka had challenged Kauffman to a series of debates across the 89th District.

"What Ms. Spicka fails to realize with her politically-charged challenge for a debate is that I speak with the people of the 89th District every day, and have done so for the past seven years," Kauffman said in statement. "During my first campaign for state representative, I knocked on more than 10,000 doors and make more than 3,500 phone calls to personally deliver my message to voters and answer their questions.

"Since then, as state representative, I have continued an open and honest grassroots conversation with the people I serve by meeting with residents, community groups, civic organizations, business and school leaders and more. I work constantly to listen directly to the people so that I can best understand and represent their interests - unfiltered by the media, academia and liberal partisans who enjoy the showmanship and shallowness of a political debate."

Republicans have a majority of registered voters in the 89th District, 55 percent compared to 33 percent for Democrats.

"I don't necessarily know that voters are going to vote along party lines," Spicka said. "I give more credit to the voters. They know what's best for their communities."

Spicka, a former public school teacher who lives in Shippensburg and co-founder of Education Matters in the Cumberland Valley, is running for her first public office.

Susan Spicka Invites Rob Kauffman to Debate Letter

April 25, 2012

Dear Representative Rob Kauffman,
Let me begin by congratulating you on securing the Republican Party’s official nomination for the 89th General Assembly District in Tuesday’s primary election. As I am sure you are aware, I am now the official Democratic nominee for the 89th General Assembly District.
I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to join me for a series of debates over the next several months in order to provide voters of our district with the greatest opportunity to learn about our positions on the critical issues facing our state.
I would like to propose a minimum of three debates, with at least one taking place this spring before the state budget is passed so that we may have the opportunity to publicly debate the priorities contained in that important piece of legislation. Of course, I would expect that we would need to discuss the precise time, date, place, and format for each debate, and I look forward to doing that at your earliest convenience.
Once again, congratulations on your nomination, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Best regards,

Susan Spicka
Democratic Candidate for the 89th House District

Day After Election, Spicka invites Kauffman to a Series of Debates

Day After Election, Spicka Challenges Kauffman to Series of Debates in 89th General Assembly District

Content from http://www.keystonepolitics.com/2012/04/day-after-election-spicka-challenges-kauffman-to-series-of-debates-in-89th-general-assembly-district/

At Keystone Politics, there are isn’t much we like seeing more than a feisty Progressive Democrat in a red district challenging a deep red Republican.  Immediately following the Primary Election, Susan Spicka, who secured the Democratic nomination for the 89th General Assembly District, has invited the Republican Legislator Rob Kauffman to join her for a series of debates across the district in the coming months.

“As a voter, I’ve always appreciated knowing where the candidates stand on the issues and having a chance to ask them questions.  Now that I’m a candidate, I want to give residents of the 89th District that same opportunity,” said Spicka.  “Debates are a great way for us as candidates to have a real conversation with our friends and neighbors about the future of our state and our community.”

Spicka would like to see at least three debates between the candidates, but would welcome even more opportunities to allow voters to compare the candidates’ views.

“The residents of the 89th district deserve the chance to see Susan and Rob side by side, discussing issues that matter to the people of the district,” said Cumberland County Democratic Committee Chairman Michael Fedor.  “It’s one of the best ways to learn who’s really up to confronting the challenges we face as a community.”

Spicka is making her first run for public office this year.  She is a former public school teacher who lives in Shippensburg with two daughters and her husband who teaches history at Shippensburg University.

Last spring, she was one of the co-founders of Education Matters in the Cumberland Valley, an organization of parents and community members that came together to raise awareness about how public policy impacts public education, and to encourage community members to support public schools.

“Rob Kauffman and I have very different views on the critical issues facing our state, such as funding for public education, economic development, support for social services, and tax fairness,” noted Spicka.  “Rather than explaining such complex issues in sound bites or 30-second ads, a debate allows voters to hear the candidates speak, and then to make up their own minds.  Not only is that good for our district, it is also good for our democracy.”

Spicka hopes that Kauffman can agree to one date this spring before the state budget comes up for a final vote.

“This year’s state budget includes deep cuts to public education, our state colleges and universities, and vital human services,” added Spicka.  “It also includes hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks for profitable, multinational corporations.  It would be a great service to the voters of our district if we could find a time and a place where Rob Kauffman and I could explain how we might vote differently on these matters and also have a chance to explain our choices.”

Susan Spicka Invites Rob Kauffman to Multiple Public Debates

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 25, 2012
Friends of Susan Spicka
P.O. Box 615, Shippensburg, PA 17257
Media contacts: Ra Kligge (717) 977-1862 rkligge@hotmail.com

Susan Spicka Invites Rob Kauffman to Multiple Public Debates

Susan Spicka, the candidate who secured the official Democratic Party nomination for the 89th General Assembly District in Tuesday’s primary election, has invited the Republican Party’s nominee, Rob Kauffman, to join her for a series of debates across the district in the coming months. Spicka would like to see at least three debates between the candidates, but would welcome even more opportunities to allow voters to compare the candidates’ views.

“As a voter, I’ve always appreciated knowing where the candidates stand on the issues and having a chance to ask them questions. Now that I’m a candidate, I want to give residents of the 89th District that same opportunity,” said Spicka. “Debates are a great way for us as candidates to have a real conversation with our friends and neighbors about the future of our state and our community.”

Susan Spicka is making her first run for public office this year. She is a former public school teacher who lives in Shippensburg with two daughters and her husband who teaches history at Shippensburg University. Last spring, she was one of the co-founders of Education Matters in the Cumberland Valley, an organization of parents and community members that came together to raise awareness about how public policy impacts public education, and to encourage community members to support public schools.

“Rob Kauffman and I have very different views on the critical issues facing our state, such as funding for public education, economic development, support for social services, and tax fairness. Rather than explaining such complex issues in sound bites or 30-second ads, a debate allows voters to hear the candidates speak, and then to make up their own minds. Not only is that good for our district, it is also good for our democracy,” noted Spicka.

Spicka looks forward to negotiating the specific times, dates, and venues with Kauffman, but she hopes that they can find one date this spring before the state budget comes up for a final vote. Spicka noted, “This year’s state budget includes deep cuts to public education, our state colleges and universities, and vital human services. It also includes hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks for profitable, multinational corporations. It would be a great service to the voters of our district if we could find a time and a place where Rob Kauffman and I could explain how we might vote differently on these matters and also have a chance to explain our choices.”

Public Opinion GUEST ESSAY:
Bake sale activism aims to stem education cuts

Article Location: http://www.publicopiniononline.com/opinion/ci_20233376/po-guest-essay-bake-sale-activism-aims-stem

By ERICA BURG and SUSAN SPICKA

Imagine being a student who spends more time in study halls than in classes with teachers, or sitting in a windowsill because there are not enough desks for the 45 children in your class. Imagine navigating to your desk around buckets that catch water leaking through the roof of your dilapidated building.

Thanks to Gov. Tom Corbett and the Pennsylvania Legislature's massive cut in state funding to public K-12 education last year, these are the experiences children in Pennsylvania now face. Gov. Corbett's defunding of our public schools has not spared any school district in the commonwealth. Seventy-percent of schools in the state have increased class sizes, 44 percent have reduced course offerings, and more than 14,000 positions were cut or left vacant by districts across the state.

From Juniata County to Chester-Upland and from Shippensburg to Reading, school districts are facing massive shortfalls and making impossible choices about what programs to cut and which opportunities to deny students.

Cutting $961 million in funding to our public schools last year wasn't enough for Gov. Corbett. He initially claimed to be providing Pennsylvania schools with "level funding" in his 2012-2013 budget proposal, and some media outlets even reported that the governor proposed a slight increase in funding for public schools.

In truth, the next budget might also contain another round of drastic cuts for our struggling public schools.

For starters, level funding means that schools would begin with funding nearly a $1 billion below 2010-2011 levels. The governor also wants to cut an additional $94 million in school funding by eliminating the Accountability Block Grant used to pay for full-day kindergarten and class size reduction initiatives.

Additionally, an accounting gimmick makes it appear that schools would receive funds that would actually go directly into PSERS, the state retirement system. School districts would neversee those funds.

The governor's cuts to public education are literally driving school districts across the state into financial crisis. He claims such tough measures are unavoidable due to the tough economy and the decline in state tax revenues. Yet the same Corbett budget that would remove state support for kindergarten also contains $1 billion in tax cuts for large, profitable corporations. In fact, the Delaware Loophole in Corbett's budget allows 70 percent of large, profitable corporations that operate in the commonwealth to avoid paying taxes in Pennsylvania.

Rather than enacting a reasonable severance fee on Marcellus Shale gas, our governor blocked a fee, and then signed into law a sham bill that gave counties the option of enacting a fee. The result - Pennsylvania lost out on hundreds of millions of dollars in potential revenue, and big energy companies walked away with hundreds of millions of dollars in excess profits.

Gov. Corbett has made his priorities crystal clear: He thinks it is more important to reward large, profitable, multinational corporations with tax breaks than it is to educate the children of hard-working Pennsylvania families.

The people of Pennsylvania need to stand up and let our governor and elected officials know that these cuts to public education are simply unacceptable. We invite everyone who cares about the future of our state to join us in sending a powerful message to Gov. Corbett and to the legislators that voted for these cuts. Let them know loud and clear: we care about our children and will not sit idly by as they destroy our public education system.

Please join us by hosting or participating in a mock bake sale during Pennsylvania Bake Sale Week, which runs from April 9-April 16.

Why a mock bake sale, you may wonder?

The cuts in state funding to our schools are so deep that there is no way that school districts can make up for them on the local level. Parents, booster clubs and PTOs simply cannot sell enough cookies, cakes, or brownies to earn the millions of dollars that our school districts have lost. These cuts are deep, devastating, and of a magnitude that defy the best efforts ofcaring communities. Our mock bake sales throughout the state will highlight the severity of these cuts and help raise awareness of how these cuts will damage our children and their futures.

We will be in the Capitol Rotunda at noon April 9 for our mock bake sale in Harrisburg. Please come if you can - bring some cookies, bring a friend, and bring your stories to share. Tell our legislators what is happening across our state. If a trip to Harrisburg won't work, we encourage you to host a mock bake sale in your local community or join one that your neighbors are hosting. This website will give you the tools that you need to host or find a local bake sale: http://pastatewidebakesaleforpubliceducation.wordpress.com/

Let us work together and send a message to Harrisburg: There simply are not enough cookies in Pennsylvania to protect our children from the damage these budget cuts are inflicting on our public schools. We need our Legislature to restore funding to our schools, and we will not stop raising our voices in support of our children until it does.

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Erica Burg and Susan Spicka are parents of children who attend a public elementary school in Pennsylvania. Spicka is also the Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania's 89th House District. You may contact them at educationmattersinthecv@gmail.com.

Public Opinion:
Two area education advocates to ask hard questions at White House tomorrow

By Jim Hook
Date:   03/22/2012 01:30:32 PM EDT
Article Location: http://www.publicopiniononline.com/ci_20231581/two-area-education-advocates-ask-hard-questions-at?IADID=Search-www.publicopiniononline.com-www.publicopiniononline.com

SHIPPENSBURG -- Susan Spicka and Erica Burg, education activists from Shippensburg, are to attend a community leaders' briefing at the White House on Friday.

Michael Morrill, executive director of Keystone Progress in Harrisburg, has assembled 150 people from across 22 Pennsylvania counties for the chance to question senior White House advisors.

"The purpose is to share information and allow community leaders to ask pointed questions away from the glare of TV cameras," he said. "This is one of the unique opportunities where both sides benefit."

Spicka said she and Burg were "honored" to join other Pennsylvania activists at the White House briefing.

"We were invited to attend this event because of the public education advocacy work we have done through our group Education Matters in the Cumberland Valley," Spicka said.

Education Matters in the Cumberland Valley advocates a strong public education system.

"We hope to connect individuals in our community to programs that the federal government offers," she said. "We also look forward to sharing with White House staff what is happening in our area school districts and discussing how their policies can better serve our communities in south central Pennsylvania."

Education, environmental issues and the Affordable Care Act will be key topics during the day-long meeting hosted by John Carson of the Office of Public Engagement, Morrill said. The group will be tweeting during the day.

Cabinet-level policy advisers will speak and answer questions, Morrill said. Personal schedules will determine who in the Obama administration will be available.

He said that at a January briefing Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson and presidential senior advisors Valerie Jarrett and David Plouffe showed up.

Spicka is seeking the Democratic nomination for the 89th District seat in the state House.

"This is an absolutely nonpartisan event that doesn't have anything to do with my campaign," Spicka said. "My goal is to learn about how federal programs can help the school districts in our area that are struggling to provide students with a quality education in the face of devastating cuts in state funding."

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Jim Hook can be reached at 717-262-4759 and jhook@publicopinionnews.com.

Susan Spicka endorsed by Cumberland County Democratic Committee as Democratic Candidate for Pennsylvania’s 89th House District

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 4, 2012
Friends of Susan Spicka
P.O. Box 615, Shippensburg, PA 17257
Media contacts: Ra Kligge (717) 977-1862 media@spicka4stateshouse.com


Susan Spicka endorsed by Cumberland County Democratic Committee as Democratic Candidate for Pennsylvania’s 89th House District

The Cumberland County Democratic Committee convened over the weekend to determine endorsements for the 2012 Primary Election. The following slate of candidates was selected for endorsement:

  • Barack Obama, President of the United States
  • Robert Casey, Jr., United States Senate
  • Ken Lee, U.S. Congress, 4th District
  • Eugene DePasquale, Pennsylvania Auditor General
  • Rob McCord, Pennsylvania State Treasurer
  • Susan Spicka, Pennsylvania State Representative, 89th District

“I am excited by all our endorsements, especially the endorsements of Ken Lee for Congress in the 4th Congressional District and Susan Spicka for State Representative in the 89th. These two are exceptionally well-qualified candidates who are talking about stronger and better representation of the people of Cumberland County,” said Michael Fedor, Chairman. The Committee is also proud to endorse Eugene DePasquale, an exemplary state representative and a strong Democrat from South Central Pennsylvania, for Auditor General.

The committee chose to leave two Primary Election races open – the 11th Congressional District between Democrats Gene Stilp and Bill Vinsko and the race for Attorney General. “In both cases, the committee seemed to say we have a well-qualified field, and so the committee wants to let the candidates fight on an even playing field in the County so the strongest candidate emerges in each race this April,” said Fedor.

Asked about the number of races where Democrats do not have a candidate on the ballot for the state legislature this spring, Fedor said, “There is no doubt that the failure of the reapportionment commission to host a truly open process and its failure to pass a legal map played a part in this. We also recognize we are rebuilding as a Party. When resources are limited, it’s best to put forward a strategic plan for success that builds for the long term. Electing Susan Spicka to the state house and winning one or both of our Congressional races this year would be important steps in that direction.”

Susan’s press statement on House Bill 1077

 

I most strongly oppose HB 1077. The difference between me and the legislators who have co-sponsored HB 1077 is that I trust the women and families in our state to make deeply personal decisions in the privacy of their own homes. They don’t.

The co-sponsors of HB 1077 believe that the government should require doctors to force women to undergo unnecessary, expensive, highly invasive medical procedures. I don’t.

This is the bottom line. If our legislators’ main priority is increasing the government’s reach into women’s private lives instead of creating jobs and strengthening Pennsylvania’s economy, they are out of touch with the values of the people who live in our state.

Susan Spicka Celebrates President's Day by Announcing

Self-Imposed Washington-Inspired Term Limit.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 19, 2012
Friends of Susan Spicka
P.O. Box 615, Shippensburg, PA 17257
Media contacts:  Ra Kligge (717) 977-1862  media@spicka4stateshouse.com

SUSAN SPICKA CELEBRATES PRESIDENT’S DAY BY ANNOUNCING SELF-IMPOSED WASHINGTON-INSPIRED TERM LIMIT.

Shippensburg --Elected office should be about public service, not about securing a job for life.  In honor of President’s Day, and in the spirit of our first president, George Washington, who voluntarily chose to leave office after eight years, I am officially announcing today that if the people of the 89th District give me the honor of representing them in Harrisburg, I will serve no more than four terms in that office.

Unfortunately, politicians who spend too much time in Harrisburg surrounded by lobbyists and enjoying the perks of the office lose touch with their districts and the people they are elected to represent.  Like my opponent, Rob Kauffman, they become part of the problem rather than part of the solution. 

If elected, I also intend to introduce legislation into the General Assembly ending lifetime health insurance coverage for legislators, stopping the corrupt system of unvouchered per diems, and replacing our system of incumbent-protection redistricting with a non-partisan redistricting commission.  While these changes won’t solve all the problems, they will be a start towards replacing our system of career politicians with citizen legislators.

I can think no better way to celebrate the spirit of President’s day than to honor the treasure that is American democracy.

Susan Spicka’s Statement on the Governor Corbett’s Signing of Marcellus Shale Law

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 14, 2012
Friends of Susan Spicka
P.O. Box 615, Shippensburg, PA 17257
Media contacts:  Ra Kligge (717) 977-1862  media@spicka4stateshouse.com

Susan Spicka’s Statement on the Governor Corbett’s Signing of Marcellus Shale Law

SHIPPENSBURG –“This bill is three years late and $300 million short,” said Susan Spicka, candidate for the 89th District of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. “Rather than protecting the environment or raising badly needed revenue for our schools and roads, this bill makes the tax on natural gas optional, and limits the ability of local communities to protect their lakes, streams, and water supplies. And not surprisingly, it is signed into law just as the natural gas companies announced that they are going to begin reducing gas production—further undercutting potential revenue.”

“Instead of doing the right thing and imposing a reasonable severance fee on Marcellus Shale when drilling began in the state, our legislators waited, watched, and waffled—letting energy companies pocket hundreds of millions of dollars in additional profits. This deeply flawed bill is just another embarrassing example of our representatives putting the interests of multinational corporations before the interest of our communities.”

Susan Spicka of Shippensburg Announces Campaign for the 89th House District

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 2, 2012
Friends of Susan Spicka
P.O. Box 615, Shippensburg, PA 17257
Media contacts:  Ra Kligge (717) 977-1862  media@spicka4stateshouse.com

Susan Spicka of Shippensburg Announces Campaign for the 89th House District


Susan Spicka of Shippensburg has announced she is running as a Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania’s 89th House District. This seat is currently held by Rob Kauffman and includes portions of Cumberland and Franklin counties.


“I know Rob Kauffman and his record well. He’s a nice person, but unfortunately he’s just spent too much time in Harrisburg. He’s forgotten that he is supposed to be working for the people in the 89th district and representing our interests,” said Spicka.


Spicka had been planning a run for the 33rd Senate District, but last week the Pennsylvania Supreme Court threw out the new legislative district map as unconstitutional. The change meant Spicka no longer lived in the 33rd Senate district, but the change also provided Spicka with the opportunity to run for the old 89th House district where she’s been living for the last nine years. “I’m excited to be running in communities that I know so well and where I have established deep roots.” said Spicka. The 89th House district overlaps portions of the 33rd Senate District in Franklin and Cumberland counties.


Susan Spicka is a former public school teacher who lives in Shippensburg with her husband, who teaches at Shippensburg University, and their two daughters. Last spring, she was one of the co-founders of Education Matters in the Cumberland Valley, an organization of parents and community members that came together to raise awareness about how public policy impacts public education and to encourage community members to support public schools.


“A month ago, I decided to run for office so that I could provide leadership on the issues that matter to the people of our communities— fighting for tax fairness so that working people don’t shoulder more than their fair share of taxes, ensuring our public schools are adequately funded, creating good jobs, and fixing our crumbling roads and bridges,” said Spicka. “The map might have changed, but the issues remain just as important. I’m ready to go to Harrisburg and to be a strong leader fighting for our families and our communities as the next representative of the 89th district. “


Find out more about Spicka’s campaign at www.spicka4statehouse.com or contact the campaign at spicka4statehouse@gmail.com

 

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Susan Spicka of Shippensburg Announces Campaign for the 89th House District