PA State Representative Mike Peifer is serving his 12th year serving the 139th District, which currently includes much of southern and eastern Wayne County and northern Pike County.

HAWLEY - PA State Representative Mike Peifer is serving his 12th year serving the 139th District, which currently includes much of southern and eastern Wayne County and northern Pike County. A Republican, Peifer is running for his 7th two-year term on the November 6th ballot.

Asking about his accomplishments and what makes him the most qualified candidate, he cited his experience from being a certified public accountant.

Accounting skills

“I try to use those skill sets every day in some of the issues that affect the Commonwealth,” he said. “I try to stay within and specialize in that framework of accounting because it is something I know… and there is a value to that at the state level given the complexities of corporate income tax, state income tax, local taxes, etc.”

He also served as Pike County Treasurer for seven years.

“I understand the important pass-through nature of funds starting at the federal level and going to the state level, and how those pass-through funds come down from the state to affect our local governments here in Pike and Wayne Counties.”

He said we are very fortunate in Pike and Wayne to have high quality schools, and extremely well run counties.

Rep. Peifer currently serves on the following committees: Appropriations, Finance, Transportation and Game & Fish.

College aid

For the past two years he has been chairman of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA). This organization was set up in the early 1960’s to handle the state grant program for high school students seeking to financial aid for higher education. The General Assembly allocates a certain amount each year for this purpose. Students need to be financially eligible, based on need.

In 2017-2018, there were 719 students in the 139th District who received PHEAA grants, totaling $2,106,227. He noted this is “free money” that does not have to be paid back.

PHEAA also acts as the servicer for the federal student loan program.

PHEAA has over 3,000 employees. There are 20 members on the board, equally represented by the two major parties from the PA House and Senate, and four “at large” members. Peifer has been on the board since 2012, and was picked due to his accounting background.

Although not a function of being state representative, PHEAA is a state agency.

His father, Tom Peifer, was superintendent of the Wallenpaupack Area School District.

His son said that he respected the way he worked with others and built a coalition for a cause. “If you sit at the kitchen table and listen to discussions,you understand about the importance of taxpayer dollars and making sure that money is spent wisely and effectively,” Rep. Peifer said about his father’s example.

Helping business

Rep. Peifer pointed out a bill he authored, HB 1284 which was signed into law (Act 107) the week before by Governor Tom Wolf. Called “One Stop Shop,” the Governor has been touting it during his own campaign season.

Peifer introduced the bill in 2011, to try and get the Commonwealth to establish more of a business-friendly relationship with businesses across the state. Act 107 provides for a single online access point to aid current and potential business owners in identifying and securing the necessary business documents associated with running a business.

Instead of “spending hours on the telephone” and being referred to different agencies, a business can now go online at any time and communicate with the PA Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED). Dealing with one person, the business can more efficiently get help with the cumbersome paperwork involving many different agencies.

The same type of initiative is now being discussed for PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and PennDOT.

This is one step in helping the state to be more friendly towards business. He noted we are so good at welcoming vacationers but not so much for business on both the state and local level. Corporate taxes are very high: 9.99%. Rebalancing our state tax structure and continued economic growth are keys to resolving this.

On a positive note, Peifer said that the state economy is very encouraging,fueled by federal economic growth. He said he has not seen this growth since he has been representative. Tax revenues are increasing. Major investment in infrastructure is being poured into Wayne and Pike, with the rebuilding of I-84, other road work and bridge projects. Construction, real estate and the hospitality industries have been doing well.

A balance is needed between protecting or environment and need for business growth, he said. Natural gas, like nuclear or hydroelectric power, carries risks. Yet studies Peifer said he has researched have not identified environmental degradation from gas drilling activities.

65,000 bosses

He said he would probably be classified as a conservative. “I like to think I’m a problem solver. I am a product of my constituents,” he said. “I serve 65,000 people every day, and I view [them] as my ‘bosses.’  And I need to know what is on their minds, how they feel about an issue and what they expect of me.”

He continued, “I have high expectations of myself because…. I know I have to produce for my people. And  if you do this job correctly, it’s not easy to keep 65,000 people happy but I do my best every day.”

Peifer, who is 50, is married to the former Jen Teeter of Hawley. They live in Greentown. They have a daughter Corrine at John Hopkins University, and two sons.Wyatt and Elijah, who are Wallenpaupack students.