BELLEFONTE — This fall, state Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Benner Township, will be back at it again, looking for reelection in the state Senate for a sixth term.
After 20 years, the Bellefonte native said he is still feeling good about representing his neighbors at the state level. For Corman — whose name has been mentioned in the past about running for governor and other positions — this is exactly where he wants to be.
“I enjoy the legislative process. I enjoy the job. I have had opportunities to look at running for different offices and I turned them all down. I’m raising a family and I am fortunate to be in a district that is so close to Harrisburg,” said Corman.
Because he is close, he can coach his sons’ Little League team and be a part of his children’s lives that would not be as possible if he took a position that required more traveling. He said he feels his role as Senate majority leader allows him to make big impact for community and state, and he want to keep on doing that.
“My wife and I always decide every four years to make a decision on whether we run again, and if I was sort of just treading water, we would move on. But I have been able to move up the leadership ladder, which enables me to be in good spot to do things for the community,” said Corman.
“The fact that I am majority leader now puts me in a good spot at the table to make significant pieces of legislation, but also be able to find areas like (Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology) that I can help financially, and others, through the budgetary process. And, I enjoy doing that, because at the end of the day, that is what we are here for — to make our communities better.”
This past year has been a successful one for the senator. He feels that while things at a national level are overrun with partisan politics that hinder progress being made, on a state level there have been fewer issues with getting things done, as most people are working for a common goal of making Pennsylvania a great place to live. Corman said he believes that you have to be able to work with people who have different political views than you.
“For the most part, people want us to get things done. They don’t have to be perfect,” said Corman, who takes pride in the way that he is able to work with other sides to accomplish things that he feels the state needs.
Corman said he treats elections as a job evaluation.
“To me, when you run for re-election, it is all about you. Have you done the job well enough not to get fired? Essentially, you are asking the people of Pennsylvania and the people in the 34th District if you should keep your job. So, my focus will be on my career, what I’ve done and my accomplishments … ,” said Corman about his campaign, as he runs against Ezra Naines, of State College.
As far as accomplishments, Corman is feeling good about this year. With the state budget passed on time thanks to a strong economy bringing in more tax dollars, Corman said the process went smoothly.
Corman is glad to see an increase in funding toward higher education, and he said will help keep rising tuition costs in check. He said he believes Penn State will soon vote to not raise tuition for the upcoming year, and that the University in Pittsburgh will do the same thing, for the most part.
“That is a big deal. The cost of higher education has gotten higher and higher and over the years as Harrisburg has looked more at basic education rather than higher education. Basic education is obviously very important, but so is higher education. Not just the Penn States of the world, but we got a nice increase for community colleges, the state system, so hopefully they will have modest increases, if any, as well,” said Corman. He added that schools such as CPI, which offer adult higher education classes, are important in this economy.
“Having a place like CPI that offers higher education classes that is local and affordable, those types of trade schools are really important. The growth of CPI over the past 15 years is just amazing,” said Corman.
Corman also is proud of the anti-hazing bill he championed following the death of Penn State student Timothy Piazza. While the bill still needs to pass the House, Corman feels it is an important step in keeping students safe while they are at school. He said things are different than when he was in a fraternity, because kids are drinking hard liquor instead of beer, and things get out of control very fast because of the high amounts of alcohol consumed. He hopes that the potential new laws will help Greek life become safer.
While disappointed in the state Supreme Court’s decision to change legislative districts lines only a few months before the November primary, Corman said he feels good about the work PA Fair Districts is doing to find a new way to draw legislative line in the future. The bill that has passed in the Senate still needs to pass in the House three months before the next election, and then must pass another cycle before it is put to popular vote. Corman said he supports the bill, even though it would take away some power he currently has as House majority leader.
“I try to look at these things not in the short-term, but the long-term. You are talking about a constitutional change. You are talking about generations. Don’t worry about the players of today, who get the advantage or disadvantage right now, but let’s look at this long-term and how does this work better for Pennsylvania, and I just think it works better,” said Corman.
Looking forward, Corman feels that property taxes are a big concern for the state and Centre County. He feels that local municipalities should have the ability to decide what kind of taxes they would like implement in order to raise the funds they need to run their communities. As an example, he said a municipality such as State College might do well with a tax on alcohol, which would allow the municipality to pay for its police force more proportionately for the people who end up using it.
“It is really about giving communities more options,” said Corman.
Right now, Corman said is happy with his options, and hopeful that his track record in the 34th District will let him continue to do the job he loves.