Litz looks to unseat Folmer in 48th - LancasterOnline: News

Litz looks to unseat Folmer in 48th

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Posted: Wednesday, October 27, 2010 9:26 pm | Updated: 1:13 am, Thu Sep 12, 2013.

Mike Folmer wants to hang onto the 48th state Senate district for another term.

Jo Ellen Litz wants to take it from him.

Folmer, the Republican incumbent, touts his record in Harrisburg over the past four years. Litz, the Democratic challenger, counters with 11 years as a Lebanon County commissioner.

The candidates, both of Lebanon, ran unopposed in their party primaries.

The 48th District covers Elizabethtown, Marietta and Mount Joy boroughs and Conoy, East Donegal, Mount Joy and West Donegal townships.

The biggest challenge facing state lawmakers, Folmer said, is an estimated $5 billion deficit coming in the new term.

"We're going to have to make some hard decisions," he said.

"It's been a cry of mine since I've been elected. We've got to get spending under control - but not raise taxes, so Pennsylvania remains a business-friendly state."

Harrisburg also must deal with a recent audit indicating "$1 billion in waste and fraud in the Department of Public Welfare," Folmer said.

"Every majority chair of a committee must hold in-depth hearings on every program under their watch," he said. "We need to look inwardly first before we look for new revenue sources."

Litz, on the other hand, says there are immediate issues that need addressing - such as pension reform and redistricting - but she's more worried about making sure past mistakes aren't repeated.

"Last year, there was a 101-day budget impasse," she said. "The county passed its budget by Dec. 31, as mandated by law. The Constitution mandates the state pass its budget by June 30, but that didn't happen."

The long delay in Harrisburg blocked vital funds, Litz said, forcing local and county governments to borrow funds just to cover expenses.

"The interest we paid on that loan was not part of our budget," she said. "And we should have been drawing interest on those state funds, so it was a double whammy."

Litz said she was angry to learn Folmer and other lawmakers were still drawing salaries while counties and municipalities were forced into debt.

That 101-day delay "violated the Constitution," Litz said. "My opponent pulls a copy of the Constitution out of his pocket and waves it in everybody's face like he's the author. But he doesn't follow it to the nth degree.

"Someone had to challenge him. This just wasn't right. So I stepped up to the plate," she said. "My father always said, 'Don't criticize unless you're willing to do something about it.' So I am."

Folmer dismisses the notion that a county budget, which requires agreement by one other person, is similar to a state budget, which needs consent from 26 senators, 102 house members and the governor to pass.

"I have nothing to be ashamed of," he said. "My goal has been to try and reinstill the trust in people, to have faith again in their elected officials.

"I have worked across the aisle, I have tried to bend where I've needed to bend without compromising my principles," he added. "Have I achieved everything I wanted to do? Of course not. But I've attempted to move the ball forward."

Folmer said he has helped change Harrisburg with a fiscally conservative approach and a firm adherence to constitutional law.

"The Constitution is very important to me. I carry it with me everywhere I go," he said. "It is our rule of law. We need to be following it."

Folmer has ushered four bills into law, strengthening child custody rights for military personnel deployed overseas, establishing rights for foster children and foster parents and revising the state's open records law.

"We need a true, open, accountable and transparent government, which I think the taxpayers deserve," he said.

Litz, Folmer said, "has criticized me through this whole campaign, but she's offered no answers as to what she would have done differently. She's offered no real solutions."

Litz disagrees.

"I know the areas that need improved," she said. "I balanced a budget every year (I was in office) on time, every time."

Litz, who used to operate an auto body shop and continues to rent out commercial properties, said she reached across party lines to make those budgets happen.

"I didn't like everything in them, but it's about compromise," she said.

"I'm not extreme on one side or the other, but I have a well-balanced approach," Litz said. "I try to find common ground, and to move ahead on that common ground.

"That's lacking in the Senate. It's polarized."

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