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Politics & Government

Reschenthaler And Arnet Face Off In 37th Senate District


Heather Arnet

State Sen. Matt Smith's surprise announcement in May that he would leave office in June to become the head of the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce has resulted in this week’s special election pitting Democrat Heather Arnet against Republican Guy Reschenthaler.

Arnet is the CEO of the Women’s and Girls Foundation. Reschenthaler stepped down from his position as a district judge to run for the open Senate seat. 

Reschenthaler says he decided to run because he believes he will be able to better serve his community in Harrisburg through the Senate than from his judicial seat. Arnet said as the head of a foundation, she spent a great deal of time teaching women how to get involved in government. Running for office herself, she says, is a great opportunity to “walk the talk.”

The candidates agree on increases to education spending and both have said they believe their personal experiences would lend to bipartisan debate and support – a skill both say will be required for any freshman legislator stepping into an already heated budget battle.

Still, differences remain.


Heather Arnet is calling for a hybrid system.

“Meaning a 401k plan, but that’s in combination with a guaranteed pension. And I think that’s a smarter way to go. It would mean that new employees are continuing to pay into the pension fund, and it also would mean that we are not playing Russian roulette with people’s retirements.”

Guy Reschenthaler said he would retain the pension system for current employees but place any new hires into a 401k-style program.

“To get us from this current position now to where we will be in 30-40 years, we have to make sure that we find ways to fund that pension. That could be pension obligation bonds, that may be changing some of our funding, also through the budget.”


Heather Arnet

“I actually think the impact fee was something developed as maybe a compromise and if we just had a severance tax like all the other states maybe that would be fair for us as Pennsylvanians and fair for the industry. And then using those funds to reinvest in our public education and in our municipalities and roads and infrastructure.”

Guy Reschenthaler

“The industry is already taxed with what’s called the impact fee… The difference between the severance tax and the impact fee is that the impact fee goes back to the host municipality, which is the municipality that’s affected by the drilling.  So, what I want to do is I want to make sure we keep that impact fee rather than going to a severance tax, or worse, adding a severance tax to the impact fee, which would tax the industry into oblivion.”

Minimum wage

Guy Reschenthaler

“If we were to raise the minimum wage it would hurt the people that we are trying to help because it would create less jobs. We would have less jobs for minimum wage workers.  And remember minimum wage is just the base entry for most of these jobs, most of these workers move up as they should.” 

Heather Arnet

“The majority of people on minimum wage are women and the majority of those women are single moms with kids.  Single mothers with children make up 75% of households living in poverty in our region.  So, increasing the minimum wage would be a great way to increase the economic stability of families.”


Heather Arnet would like to see more government spending on infrastructure as a way to jump-start the state’s economy with local hiring requirements for the contractors doing the work.

Guy Reschenthaler believes it is important to support the oil and gas industry as a way to build the state’s economy.  He would also work to encourage small businesses by reducing taxes to make “Pennsylvania an attractive place to open shop.”