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Candidate Mike Fisher tells county voters state tax rates too high

| Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2002

KITTANNING TOWNSHIP - Armstrong County is a microcosm of the whole state of Pennsylvania in one obvious way, according to Republican gubernatorial candidate Mike Fisher.

It has what it takes to attract economic growth, like Northpointe, but it also has high tax rates which cause interested companies capable of bringing more jobs into the area to instead seek out places in other states. Other states, Fisher said, have lower tax rates and are more conducive to profit.

"We need to make sure our tax structure is much more competitive than it is today, we need to turn that around and I plan to do that," said Fisher to 37 county municipal leaders gathered at Tuesday's roundtable discussion at Kittanning Township fire hall.

The state Attorney General, Fisher, is facing Democrat Ed Rendell, a former mayor Philadelphia in the general election Nov. 5. Recent polls have shown Fisher trailing Rendell by double digits.

Fisher said that, if elected governor, he would employ an eight-year plan to reduce what he referred to as "job-crushing" taxes statewide.

"That's so 'Joe' from Tennessee, the next time he comes here, realizes that this is a state that is more business-friendly," said Fisher.

Other items Fisher said he would address as governor include the further balancing of the state's system of permit-distribution and regulations to speed up the process for citizens.

Working with State Rep. Jeff Coleman, R-60th, Fisher said he also plans to continue to reform the state's litigation system in a way that prevents people from being sued with little cause.

"When you talk about litigation, there's nothing more damaging to our state today than when we lose our doctors and our hospitals due to the the high cost of medical liability insurance," said Fisher.

Fisher also said he plans to invest further in state infrastructure.

"Because of my experiences in the state capitol in the last 28 years, I know a lot about where the money's buried," said Fisher. "Looking at Pennsylvania's programs and how they're structured today, we find a lot of programs like PennVEST where the money's not being used."

Fisher said part of his campaign includes the creation of the "PA Pride Authority", an agenda which will be equipped with $2 billion to invest Pennsylvania's communities.

"The money will go not only into roads and bridges, but into high-speed digital access systems," said Fisher.

While a hi-tech companies located at Northpointe have digital-access, Fisher cited the need for it in other parts of the county and region to spur even more growth.

Fisher said he also plans to reshape the state's workforce development in a way that makes better use of the billion dollars in annual expenditures statewide.

"We're going to go to Congress and the President and say 'We want you to give us the authority in Pennsylvania to spend the federal dollars that we're getting in a way that we best feel we can to help educate our workforce'," said Fisher.

Lastly, Fisher's plan for tax reform as governor would include passing an amendment to Act 50 next May requiring every Pennsylvania school district to include a referendum on the ballot to allow voters to choose how they want to fund their public schools.

"If it's your tax dollars that are going to be raised, shouldn't you have some say in how our schools are funded and how our schools are operated," asked Fisher.

"Rather than uncontrolled spending for public education, everybody's going to have their say and have their vote on future tax increases (if I'm elected."

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