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135th State House Race: Samuelson, Barreto Meet on PBS39

Discussion between eight-term incumbent Democrat Samuelson and relative newcomer Republican Barreto airs at 8:30 tonight.

 

State Rep. Steve Samuelson criticized recent cuts to the state education budget that have meant $6 million to the Bethlehem Area School District.

Kenneth Barreto, the challenger in the 135th State House District race, said he was concerned that school taxes are forcing people out of their homes.

In a brief candidates forum, which will air tonight on PBS39, there were no apparent sharp differences between the Democratic incumbent and the Republican challenger.

Barreto said he would like to work on closing the Delaware loophole for companies that do most of their business in Pennsylvania but locate in the neighboring state to avoid corporate income taxes. Doing so could help lessen some of the local tax burden, he reasoned.

Samuelson said he agreed. Further, Samuelson said he would still like to push for a tax on companies that drill for natural gas in Marcellus Shale deposits.

In a 15-minute discussion, Barreto never addressed the controversial Marcellus Shale issue, but he did say he thinks that he could trim the state budget in the areas of corrections and the judiciary.

Barreto, who is a guard at Lehigh County Prison, said he believes more emphasis should be placed on drug and alcohol treatment than punishment for offenders.

Samuelson, who is the minority chairman of the House Ethics Committee, said he would like to push for a new mechanism for drawing up legislative districts that are nonpartisan.

Taped on Oct. 11, the forum will air at 8:30 tonight in the first half of an episode of Tempo InDepth, the local PBS station’s regular television news magazine. The second half will feature a discussion between State Rep. Marcia Hahn, R-138th, and her challenger, Democrat Leslie Altieri.

Samuelson, 52, of Bethlehem has been in the state House since 1998 and is seeking his eighth term. Barreto, 28, a veteran who served two tours of duty in Iraq, winning a Purple Heart during the first tour, is running for office for the second time. He lost a bid to join the Bethlehem Area School Board in 2011.

The 135th state House District includes a large part of the city of Bethlehem, part of the East Side of Allentown and a portion of Bethlehem Township.

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