Mike Carroll's work in the state Legislature extends beyond Harrisburg, the three-term incumbent Democrat said.
There's a role for a state representative that goes beyond casting votes on bills and amendments, Carroll said. And that is you become an ambassador and an advocate for your communities in substantive ways … the state (representative) certainly is a catch-all for problem solving.
Carroll said that role has been particularly important in Luzerne County, where smaller municipal governments often don't have the resources to answer all the questions and solve all the problems residents approach them with.
Carroll, the Democratic chairman of the House Transportation Subcommittee on Highways, named three projects he has successfully brought to his district through earmarks: the reconstruction of Commerce Road in Pittston Township and Dupont, the planned construction of a new airport access road in Avoca and the repair of a dam on Boy Scout camp property in Tobyhanna Township in the Monroe County portion of his district.
There are a whole series of other victories that somebody like me gets in terms of dealing with the 15 communities (in the 118th district) that are much less noteworthy as far as dollars and cents go that are much more important as far as communities go, he said, naming a Duryea flood wall project as an example of such a smaller project.
Carroll said he would continue to make investing in transportation infrastructure a priority if reelected. He said investment in infrastructure creates construction jobs, and would partially alleviate high unemployment in the region and around Pennsylvania.
Carroll supports the state Transportation Funding Advisory Commission's plan to increase funding for transportation, which recommends increasing vehicle and driver license fees and changing the way fuel is taxed among other measures, even if those recommendations are unpopular.
I know that there will be no pep rallies for Mike Carroll if I cast a vote like that, but it seems to me that we are paying a very high price and we could pay a very high price in the future with respect to our transportation network if we just let it fall apart, Carroll said.
Carroll named increasing state funding for education and the Marcellus Shale as two other key issues for the state and his campaign.
The issues are interrelated, Carroll said, because the state would have more money to invest in education if it had enacted a severance tax on gas extraction on par with the rate charged by other states.
Carroll voted against Act 13, the state natural gas impact fee law, because he felt the revenues fall short of adequately compensating the state and municipalities for the impact of gas drilling and because of restrictions on local zoning authority.
Carroll, a member of the House Education Committee, favors increasing the state's contribution to education funding, and said he voted against the last two Harrisburg budgets because they unfairly targeted those that need a safety net more than others with cuts.
Carroll said he is aware the economic slowdown that started in 2008 has negatively impacted the state's revenue, but said the current administration has shown its priorities in deciding what to cut and what to preserve in light of those budget constraints, naming tax incentives for the ethane cracker Shell is considering building outside Pittsburgh an example.
Age: 49 Resides: Avoca
Occupation: Full-time legislator
Education: BA University of Scranton
Family: Wife, Kelly; three children, Matt, Mackenzie and Ali
The 118th District is made up of 10 municipalities in Luzerne County and five in Monroe County. In Luzerne County the district includes Pittston, Avoca, Dupont, Duryea and Jenkins Township, as well as Bear Creek Village and part of Bear Creek Township.
Voted against the last two state budgets in part because of cuts to education funding. Believes the state needs to shoulder a larger share in funding education. Said state investment in transportation infrastructure is both necessary to prevent disaster and will create jobs. Supports cutting the state's corporate income tax rate.
Co-sponsored bills to reduce the size of the general assembly and to hold a state constitutional convention, which would address issues like reducing the size of the state Legislature and redistricting. Supports longer terms for state legislators but with term limits to move away from continual campaigning. Does not accept per diem payments; itemizes expenses instead. Does not support moving to a part-time legislature because it would give to much power to unelected administrators.
Supports a natural gas severance tax on par with those of other states taxing gas extraction. Voted against Act 13, the state impact fee law, which he felt does not adequately tax the industry. Believes impacted municipalities, including those on the borders of natural gas development like Luzerne County, should be compensated, but would also use revenue to fund education. Supports tighter environmental regulation of the gas industry.
Candidate's key asset
Has brought multi-million dollar investments in infrastructure to his district for projects including the new Avoca airport access road, Commerce Boulevard repair and streetscape revitalization in downtown Pittston. Wants to continue the trend in a fourth term.