Editor's Note the following is a story based on an interview with Democratic State Representative Candidate Bret Binder. A similar story about Republican Incumbent Dan Truitt will run Sunday
Bret Binder has worn a lot of hats. He’s a baseball player, a swimmer. He owns part of a bowling alley. He’s a lawyer. This November, though, he’s reaching for a new hat.
Bret Binder wants to be the new state representative for the 156th District.
“I’m concerned with where things are going,” Binder said. “I felt like this is my moment where I really needed to run.”
Binder is young for a politician, just 33. But already in his career he’s worked as a small business owner, a clerk for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and a local real estate and commercial lawyer.
All of those careers bring with them experience he hopes will translate to the state house.
“What I saw a lot when I was working in the Supreme Court is poorly written legislation,” Binder said. “An issue I’ve had with a lot of legislation coming out of Harrisburg is that a lot of bills have ulterior motives.”
Binder cited the recently passed voter ID law as an example.
“It’s a voter suppression law not a voter ID law,” Binder said. “It could potentially disenfranchise 800,000-1.5 million voters. I’m shocked it wasn’t overthrown.”
Binder said he was tired of bills that appear to him to be “work-arounds.”
“If something is on the Republican agenda, they’ll find a way to get it done,” Binder said.
Binder added that the Marcellus Shale bill was a perfect example.
“We missed a golden opportunity to create jobs,” Binder said. “There should have been an absolute boom to the economy.”
Binder added, “But instead we got a bill that sold out to the special interests. There’s an estimated trillion dollars in gas in the ground. It’s not going anywhere.”
According to Binder, Pennsylvania should have taxed the shale at a rate similar to states like West Virginia and Texas. Those states have tax rates between six and eight percent.
“The argument is that those rates are onerous and will kill business,” Binder said. “That’s just the national average. It’s not onerous.”
Binder believes that the state missed out on an opportunity with Marcellus Shale, not just an opportunity to boost the state’s economy, but also an opportunity to buoy the state’s education system.
“I truly believe that opportunity comes from education,” Binder said. “We have a moral obligation to educate our kids.”
Binder added, “Public education is under attack from the far-right, but even conservative studies show that for every dollar you spend on education you save seven dollars in social services down the line.”
Binder went on to say that he’s not anti-charter school, but that they need more accountability and oversight.
“Charter schools are still paid for with taxpayer money.” Binder said. “Some charter schools in the state made a profit of $5 million. That $5 million is from taxpayers.”