As your next State Representative for District 13, I’ll be a true independent voice in Harrisburg.
- Agriculture/Rural Economy
- Education and Job Training
- Fire Arm Safety
- Health Care
- Property Tax Reform
- Stewardship of Natural Resources
- Transportation and Infrastructure
Stewardship of Natural Resources
When I was sworn into the United States Air Force, I took an oath to defend the Nation and uphold our Constitution. As your next State Representative for District 13, I will take my oath just as seriously. We have an environmental crisis in our own backyard, and we must take decisive steps now to protect our Pennsylvania natural resources before it is too late.
Pennsylvania Constitution. Article I, Section 27 says:
“The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.”
I grew up on a farm and have a deep respect for the land. I support legislation that protects our air, water and land. As your next State Representative for District 13, my first action will be to write legislation reversing the devastating effects of 2016’s Act 12 that placed the Chester Water Authority (CWA) at risk for a hostile corporate takeover by a for-profit water company. Also, I will put forth legislation to place the CWA in a trust, and by doing so, our water and watershed will be safe for future generations. It is time to root out the corruption of special interests in our legislature. Our natural resources belong to us and must not be in the hands of those who are looking for profit over the health and safety of our community. We must stop those who blatantly defy our constitutional rights as Pennsylvanians.
Stormwater management is a very real problem facing our commonwealth. As storms get stronger and heavier, this problem will only grow. We must implement pragmatic solutions and support our local governments in taking steps for our communities, including rain gardens, planting native species, soil erosion prevention, animal waste management, highway wildflower programs, and so much more.
Federal and state governments should be investing in research and development of green technologies and using them in all sectors including agriculture and energy. I support energy production from clean and renewable sources. As renewables become cheaper and more efficient, there will be rapid expansion and opportunities. I believe that Pennsylvania, specifically Chester County and District 13, must take advantage of job growth in this sector. By doing this, we will live up to the ideal set forth by our state Constitution to be stewards of our natural resources.
Education and Job Training
I believe in the power of education to lift up a community. My wife, Christina, and I are products of public education. My older son attends Avon Grove schools and my younger son will start this fall. My mother is a graduate of the Oxford Area School District, and my father is a graduate of Kennett Consolidated School District.
Pennsylvania Constitution. Article 3, section 14 says:
“The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education to serve the needs of the Commonwealth.”
As your next state representative, I am committed to ensuring every child in District 13 and across Pennsylvania has access to great public schools. That begins with a community that fosters a love of learning. We do this by supporting students, teachers, parents, therapists, and other educational professionals. We must ensure safe, healthy environments where our children can gain skills and confidence. We must teach empathy along with arithmetic, and we must create conscientious citizens along with scientists and CPAs.
As evidenced by my own life story, college is not always the first step in a successful life. As a community, we must support alternative paths to success, such as military service and vocational training. We need to distinguish between cyber and brick and mortar charter schools. For the future of our community, state and country, all publicly-funded schools must be held to the same high standards.
I received a world-class education at Pennsylvania State University. From community college to universities, we need affordable, high-caliber, in-state options for our students. Only then can we ensure our best and brightest will stay right here in the commonwealth. No matter your age, Pennsylvanians should have the opportunity to better their lives through education; job training is the key to opening doors for all constituents.
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” —Maimonides
Education is always a great investment as it is a key factor in increasing the socio-economic growth of a community.
Property Tax Reform
On average, 37% of any given school district’s budget is provided by the state. This is down from the state’s share that was 54%. This means local school districts are on the hook for 63% of the funding for their schools. 75% of Pennsylvania’s school districts intend to raise property taxes to fill the gap from a diminished state share. Property tax increases have a disproportionate effect on seniors living on fixed incomes. Many seniors tell me that they feel they need to choose between their homes or their medication. The dignity of our seniors is at the heart of property tax reform.
Our government has a responsibility to fund public education and not hoist this burden on the taxpayers. We must end partisan gridlock and find solutions, such as House Bill 1675 that was introduced by Rep. Dan Williams with bipartisan support. This would allow Seniors 65 and older to apply for a freeze in their property taxes for as long as they and their spouse are living in their home.
When elected, I will bring real leadership with new insights and new solutions—pragmatic problem solving for our seniors, our children and our entire commonwealth community.
I support the efforts to end gerrymandering, such as those championed by Fair Districts PA. Data mapping technologies have become sophisticated enough to gerrymander districts to untold degrees; we must take action to ensure that, regardless of party, those with power are not able to become entrenched. Voters should choose their legislators; legislators should not choose their voters. Democrats and Republicans must take a stand together on this issue. It is the bedrock of democracy and gerrymandered districts disproportionately silence minority voices. Our very own District 13 was redrawn after the 2010 election to make it a safer seat for the Republican party. This leads to the one-party dominated legislature that we see today, which is not a fair and balanced representation of the electorate.
Fire Arm Safety
As a veteran, I stand for the Second Amendment, and I stand for common sense gun safety. I support universal background checks and extreme risk protection orders. I would also increase firearm training. If you own a firearm, you must be trained in the proper care and storage of your weapon. Rep. Melissa Shusterman understands this with House Bill 1858, which she introduced. This bill establishes the Semi-Automatic Assault Rifle Safety and Enforcement Fund, making training an essential part of ownership of semi-automatic assault rifles.
Firearm safety goes hand-in-hand with mental health. We must reduce the stigma of mental health conditions in our community and make mental health experts readily available in our schools. An open dialogue about mental health starting in pre-school and throughout adulthood is a must to reduce suicides by firearm.
Medicare and Medicaid is under attack. Prescription drug costs continue to rise. People with pre-existing conditions are scared that they will be shut off from insurance with premiums soaring. Our older adults deserve the security and benefits that are the result of a lifetime of hard work and sacrifice. As your PA State Representative, I will work to ensure that Pennsylvania supports health and well-being. Without our health, we truly have nothing.
The Opioid Crisis destroys families and communities. While our community has taken steps in the right directions. We still need to do more to help those who are suffering and their families. This will require a multi-pronged approach including: education, physical care, mental and emotional care and care of the family.
Transportation and Infrastructure
Transportation and Infrastructure: Work, medical care, shopping,, and to socialize with friends and family—Pennsylvania residents want to be able to be independent. As a state, we must invest in better public transportation infrastructure, buses and train service, beyond our cities and into rural communities. The SCCOOT bus and Rover, while providing a level of local support, are simply inadequate to meet the community’s expanding needs. As a state, we must also continue to repair and upgrade our failing roads and bridges. Investment in infrastructure builds our economy.
Internet Technology and Infrastructure: COVID has changed our world in numerous ways—from telemedicine to Zoom meetings for work and connecting with friends, family, worship, and clubs. As a state, we need better and faster Internet technology especially in rural communities, such as District 13. As an Assistant Vice President in Information Technology at Barclays Bank in Delaware, I understand what is needed to take our community to the next level of connectivity and make Pennsylvania a leader in Internet Infrastructure.
We need to renew our community’s commitment to our veterans. We must find ways to embrace those who fought for our freedom beyond a Memorial Day parade and a salute on Veterans Day. How can we care for those who cared for us? I believe that means increased healthcare access especially mental health, more supervision of veteran’s nursing homes, job training and job placement programs for those who are honorably discharged. For those who sacrificed so much, we give so little. I will work hard to see this changed in Pennsylvania.
As a veteran, I benefited from the education and job training that the United States Air Force gave me. Because of my service, I was able to attend Penn State University where I graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Information Technology. As a community, we must respect career paths that are in service to others, our community, and our country. From my own service, I learned sacrifice and leadership. I learned what it means to serve others with honor and distinction. These are all valuable lessons for our youth. Programs in high school and college, such as the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) and Junior ROTC (JROTC) have their place in the community. Military service must be a viable and respected career path with fair wages and benefits.
Richard Ruggieri for PA 13
PO Box 12 • Oxford, PA 19363