A former United States Marshal with the U.S. Department of Justice, Mike Regan, who was sworn in as Representative of the 92nd House District on January 1, said his first priority is school safety.
A native of central Pennsylvania, Regan served as the commander of the Fugitive Task Force with the Middle District of Pennsylvania in 1995. In 2002, Regan was appointed as a U.S. Marshal for the Middle District. After 23 years of service, he retired in 2011.
Upon retirement, Regan was named Deputy Inspector General of Pennsylvania. In that position, his job was to prevent, investigate and eradicate waste, fraud and abuse in state agencies and the Department of Public Welfare. It was during that service, Regan said, that he witnessed the need for government to become more cost-efficient and effective.
Regan replaces Scott Perry, who was elected as a congressman from Pennsylvania's 4th District. Regan, and his wife, Fran, reside in Carroll Township with their four children. Regan has been appointed to the House Judiciary, Gaming Oversight, Liquor Control and Tourism and Recreation committees.
“It's an awesome responsibility,” Regan said. “They are big shoes to fill. I'm honored that the people of the 92nd District picked me to represent them. I need to be up on my game … to provide the same level of service that Scott Perry provided.”
When the House is in session, Regan plans to spend time in Harrisburg, but when the legislature is not in session, he plans to devote his time to providing service to his constituents in the district. To that end, he plans to open offices in Fairview and Newberry townships, where he intends to spend one day weekly, in each.
“I am in the process of drafting legislation that would dealwith school security in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy,” Regan said. “Calling on my experience as a US Marshal, I am working with like-minded legislators to draft legislation that will help protect our children and their teachers at school.”
Even though Regan does not serve on the House Education Committee, he does have definite views about the problems related to public education in the state. Admitting there are mixed opinions about how to evaluate school performance by using standardized testing, he said it is virtually impossible to terminate bad teachers who are protected by tenure.
“I think standardized testing forces teachers to teach,” Regan said. “They just implemented teacher evaluations and I think that's a good step in the right direction. There certainly is an argument to be made that standardized testing needs to be looked at to determine if it still does what it is intended to do. Many times we find teachers teaching to the test and not necessarily doing what is going to make our kids better prepared to face the world after they leave school.”
Regan listed property tax reform as a priority. Looking for common ground with legislators on the opposite side of the aisle is the way to accomplish meaningful progress, he added.
“Property taxes, during the last 10 years, have increased by 66-percent and that is particularly an issue for our seniors who are living on a fixed income,” Regan said. “Many are faced with having to lose or sell their homes because of rising taxes.”
It's not just seniors who are feeling the burden of escalating property taxes. With salaries staying the same or only slightly increasing, it is difficult for many families to provide for their basic needs and come up with even more money to pay property taxes, he said.
In Pennsylvania, there is a groundswell of support for meaningful property tax reform. HB 1776, Regan said, targets property tax relief by proposing increased sales taxes and income taxes.
“What the right answer is, I don't know,” Regan said. “My feeling is that everyone should have relief from property taxes but we need to address the situation seniors are in, through a good-faith effort. We need to use the about $1 billion in gaming revenue as it was supposed to be used to help seniors. Only about $600,000 of that amount is currently being used for that purpose. The entire amount needs to go to programs supporting our senior citizens.”
Regan said the business climate in the state needs legislative support to improve. He believes fiscal responsibility is one way to establish that environment. Agriculture is an important part of the state's economy.
“The new year and the new legislative session will bring with it a number of issues that have to be faced,” Regan said. “Given the financial climate of the Commonwealth and the nation, we must continue to work to restrain state government spending, while working to allocate our resources to areas of the greatest need. Given the questions on what Washington’s leaders will do with a new federal farm bill, I believe we must protect our farmers and agriculture-related businesses here in the district, and all across Pennsylvania. This will be a focus of my legislative work, along with other issues.”
For more information on Regan, visit www.repmikeregan.com.