Candidate Questionnaire: Tommy Sankey
Below is Republican Tommy Sankey’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.
For the past 59 years, the Sankey family has been creating jobs right here in Clearfield County. After my graduation from the Clearfield High School, I went onto Saint Francis to earn a degree in accounting. After a short time working as an accountant, I knew that sitting behind a desk just wasn’t for me. I came back to help with the family business, and now after a few years, I am the operator of our businesses.
I am a real job creator, not a politician. That’s why I am running for State Representative, so that I can take my real world experience to Harrisburg. The politicians had their chance to lead, and they haven’t gotten the job done. I will.
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?
You can’t solve the problem until you get the bleeding under control. One of the problems with the pension system, and government in general, is that they are 20 years behind the times. No more can we afford to have a defined compensation plan. The first thing we must do is to convert to the defined contribution plan, similar to the 401K plans that many of us have in our own businesses.
Most people will tell you that we have to raise taxes for our pension crisis – I believe we need to grow our economy. We didn’t get into this mess because we had too little taxes, and we won’t get out of the mess with too many taxes. This challenge stems from the bad economy, which saw us lose billions of dollars. It also stems from legislators voting themselves and state employees a ridiculous increase in their pension (50 percent for legislators). If we grow our economy, the returns to our pension fund will grow, too.
3. What is your position so far as deep injection wells for disposing of frack water from shale drilling?
I believe there are more efficient ways to treat frack water. There are other states that use injection wells, but it’s my belief that we can find more efficient means to provide a safe haven for our water while maintaining our commitment to energy independence.
4. Do you support the Marcellus shale impact fee?
Yes. I support the fee that actually goes to help with areas of impact and not a slush fund for Harrisburg politicians.
5. What is your position so far as raising the gas tax for infrastructure?
I’m not going to Harrisburg to raise taxes on working families. We need to fund transportation and it needs to be a priority when we make budgets. Transportation, Education, Public Safety, and the Social Safety Net need to be first in line for the budget.
On Transportation, I don’t think raising the gas tax is something the economy needs when gas is $4 a gallon. However, there are other things that can be done. We should take the State Police out of the motor license fund so that will free up $500 million in year one. I also support public-private partnerships to generate money for infrastructure projects. Those are two types of ideas that can immediately be done to begin funding our projects.
6. Should governments only be allowed to spend what they raise?
Yes. Washington is a mess because politicians have ignored the basic premise of balancing a budget – something families across our community have to do every month. Pennsylvania has a balanced budget amendment, and I support the idea that we must balance the budget every year even if that means making tough choices.
7. What is your position so far as imposing charges for state services (e.g. state police)?
The hardworking families already pay too much in taxes and fees. As the cost of living continues to rise, families are struggling to stay in their homes. In regards to Police services, our budget needs to have spending prioritized, and public safety needs be at the top of those priorities.
8. How do you propose reducing or eliminating the property tax? What alternatives could be considered?
Property taxes are something that nobody has liked forever, but there hasn’t been a solution that meets the approval of voters. Raising income and sales taxes have been a non-starter and in a fragile economy, those are non-starters.
I will work to cap property taxes for seniors and continue to fight to devote more property tax relief through gaming revenues and successful programs funded by the Lottery.
9. How will you address unemployment? What is your plan for creating more jobs?
I think we need to go back to basics when it comes to creating jobs. First, we must invest in public education. This is a foundational issue that I believe strongly in because I know that I can’t hire someone in my business unless they are prolific in math and some basic science. Then, we must get out of the way – and we do this by lowering taxes for small business and working families and end excessive regulations. Third, we must get government under control – and that means spending reform and political reform. I am an outsider who has never sat behind a taxpayer funded desk. You can count on me to deliver on changing Harrisburg.
10. Would you be willing to cross party lines to stop or pass a bill?
Yes. I am not running to represent a party. I am running to represent Clearfield County and my district. I have never been a partisan and I think that Republicans and Democrats share the blame for the challenges our country faces. Running for State Representative isn’t the start of my political career – it’s my effort to serve our community. The only special interest that I will listen to is the people of my district.