Senator Ryan P. Aument
This week I have been reflecting back on my first year serving as your State Senator.
It was a year ago this week that I took office and the 2015-2016 legislative session begin. I did so with much optimism that despite the partisan division leaders in both parties would work together to find solutions to the critical issues confronting Lancaster County and our Commonwealth.
Shortly after assuming office I wrote in an Op-Ed that I was committed to working on your behalf to advocate for and champion efforts to build an opportunity society in Pennsylvania.
I believe public policy focused on limiting the role of government, promoting strong families, vibrant communities, quality schools, and the free enterprise system will ensure our citizens are able to pursue happiness and experience earned success.
In my first year of service to you, I was proud to introduce and support legislation consistent with that vision.
For example, I offered legislation to clarify that it is the role of the people through their elected General Assembly, and not the courts, to define what constitutes an institution of purely public charity. Our charitable organizations and non-profits play a central role in the life of our communities.
I also introduced legislation to protect high quality educators in the unfortunate circumstance of a layoff at a school. Giving school districts the ability to better manage personnel and ending the practice of seniority based layoffs will enhance the teaching profession and promote a quality education system.
I also sponsored legislation to promote hybrid learning and establish education savings accounts for students with disabilities. I believe a high quality education system is one that is student and family-centered.
I am proud to have authored bills to ensure that our public schools and the EITC/OSTC programs remained fully funded during the budget impasse.
Last spring, I met a constituent from the Elizabethtown area who tragically lost her daughter after a horrific car accident with a drunk driver. In response, I joined with Representative Dave Hickernell to require any server of alcohol to be trained in the responsible alcohol management. This legislation was crafted in a way to protect families, our communities; and was done so with the input of business stakeholders.
To protect taxpayers and improve state government programs, I partnered with Representative Mindy Fee to establish the independent office of Inspector General in statute. The Inspector General is responsible for identifying and eradicating waste, fraud, abuse in state government. Our legislation empowers and grants greater independence to that office so they do even more to catch those that would cheat government. State government should not ask people to pay more in taxes if it isn’t doing all it can to value your current tax contributions.
Finally, I believe the health of our agriculture industry is critical to the economy of Lancaster County and Pennsylvania. I worked with our Lancaster County House delegation to secure critical funding and resources to ensure we are fully prepared in the event of an outbreak of Avian Influenza. Keeping our food supply safe and secure must be of primary importance.
Like most citizens, one of my top disappointments in 2015 was the protracted budget impasse.
While I was initially encouraged by the vision Governor Wolf outlined during his inaugural address last January, it has become apparent over the last year that Governor Wolf’s vision for jobs that pay, schools that teach, and government that works almost exclusively centers on raising taxes to spend more money.
As has been proven time and again, we cannot tax or spend our way to economic opportunity. Rather, I believe we can create an opportunity society for our children and grandchildren in Pennsylvania only by shrinking the role of government and expanding the role of the family, community, and the free market.
This debate is at the heart of the 2015-2016 state budget impasse.
Based on your feedback, I have consistently stood against efforts to raise state taxes in support of unaccountable spending. Instead, I have supported and voted for responsible spending plans that protect taxpayers and allow for growth and economic opportunity for all.
I think this is, and has been, a fight worth waging.
Finally, it has been an honor to serve you this past year. I have enjoyed meeting with you and hearing your feedback at numerous events throughout the 36th Senatorial District.
In 2016 I intend to host numerous events and open as many channels of communication with constituents and be your advocate in Harrisburg. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if I can be of any service to you.
Wishing you a blessed New Year.