Candidate Questionnaire: Mark B. McCracken
Below is Democrat Mark B. McCracken’s response to the GantDaily.com Candidate Questionnaire for the 74th District. Candidates were not limited in their responses.
1. Please provide a biographical narrative.
Mark B. McCracken is currently serving in his third term as Clearfield County Commissioner and also served for 10 years on the Clearfield Area School District Board of Directors. McCracken began his career working at the NARCO Engineering Center in Curwensville in 1983 before becoming the Director of Information Technology for Clearfield County Government, a position he held from 1988 until 2004.
McCracken resides in Lawrence Township with his wife, Kelly and daughter, Amanda. He currently serves on the Executive Board of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, as the Vice Chairman of the Clearfield County Area Agency on Aging board, as Secretary for the Central Pennsylvania Community Action board, as Chairman of the Pennsylvania Counties Health Insurance Purchasing Cooperative, as Chairman of the Penn Ag Democrats and is a member of the Sons of the American Legion. The McCracken family attends Saint Francis Church.
2. There is currently an estimated $40 billion shortfall in state funding for public pensions. If elected, what is your proposal for addressing this issue?
I believe there should be a committee formed of approximately six people, including the State Treasurer along with leaders from both the House and Senate to work out a bipartisan solution to the pension shortfall. Most important is that all current and future obligations to people already involved in the state pension program must be met. It is also important that a solution is found to deal with the two-tier pension problem that is treating many of the retirees who have retired in the last decade differently than those who retired earlier.
3. What is your position so far as deep injection wells for disposing of frack water from shale drilling?
I oppose using deep injection wells to dispose of frack water. I believe it is better to treat and clean the water, hopefully returning the treated water back to the environment. Not only is this good environmental policy, but it also will allow for creation of new jobs to work in the treatment plants.
4. Do you support the Marcellus shale impact fee?
The impact fee that was enacted earlier this year has some flaws, but overall it will provide millions of dollars to Clearfield County and the municipalities in the county in the coming years. I believe it will take time to see how the individual counties and municipalities utilize the funds and to determine if the funds are being used to better the communities where drilling activity is happening. If the funds are used for infrastructure repair and improvement, to improve public safety and invest in education programs, then the goals for the impact fee will be met.
5. What is your position so far as raising the gas tax for infrastructure?
I do not support raising the gas tax for infrastructure improvements. Gas prices are too high as is and this would fall directly on the backs of the middle class.
6. Should governments only be allowed to spend what they raise?
Regardless of whether we are talking personal, business or governmental finances, the issue isn’t incurring debt, the issue is incurring a debt load that you can handle. Having good cash flow is the key and it is sometimes necessary to borrow money to complete needed projects, upgrades to facilities and to purchase necessary equipment to provide the services necessary. During my time as Clearfield County Commissioner, we have paid off significant long-term debt and have also incurred new debt for upgrading facilities and renovating office space. That said, the current debt load for Clearfield County Government is very low and the financial health of Clearfield County Government is very good with a $5.3 million general fund balance in the most recently completed annual audit.
7. What is your position so far as imposing charges for state services (e.g. state police)?
I oppose imposing any charges for state police coverage on county or local governments. It is the obligation of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to properly fund and provide adequate state police coverage throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, the Corbett administration has an agenda of under funding the state police in order to shrink the ranks of available state police troopers. Corbett’s goal is to shrink the ranks of troopers so he can shutdown and eliminate state police barracks, including Philipsburg and DuBois. This is bad for Pennsylvania and even worse for Clearfield County.
8. How do you propose reducing or eliminating the property tax? What alternatives could be considered?
I support HB 1776, which calls for the elimination of most or all of the real estate tax for local school funding purposes. HB 1776 was in committee during the current session but when a full financial review was performed, it was found that the current version of HB 1776 would not provide sufficient revenue to replace what would be lost eliminating the school real estate tax. If HB 1776 can be modified to provide sufficient funds to replace the school real estate tax, this would be a huge benefit and relief of tax burden for Pennsylvania homeowners.
9. How will you address unemployment? What is your plan for creating more jobs?
I believe we must continue to grow using our natural resources to power job growth. I also believe we should be setting policy in regards to the gas industry to call for a portion of the gas reserves harvested from Pennsylvania wells should stay in Pennsylvania to power new and existing industries. I favor placing an extraction tax on the gas that could be 100 percent waived on the gas that is kept in Pennsylvania to power Pennsylvania industry. This would solve two big problems. First, this would provide needed revenue for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania but it would also provide incentives to the gas industry to market the gas to drive industry within Pennsylvania.
10. Would you be willing to cross party lines to stop or pass a bill?
Rather than concentrating on partisan political decisions, my policy would be to always ask “will this bill be good or bad for Clearfield County, rural Pennsylvania and the 74th District?” If the answer is YES, I would support and fight to pass the bill; however, if the answer is NO, I would fight to stop the bill.