Experience counts: Markosek is the better choice in the 25th District

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In the state House race in the 25th District, it's deja vu all over again, as Yogi Berra once said. The same two candidates are facing off.

On the Democratic side, there's the 30-year incumbent in a leadership position, Joe Markosek, 62, of Monroe- ville, once chairman of the Transportation Committee and now his party's leader on the Appropriations Committee.

For the Republicans, there is Mike Doyle, 47, of Plum, who is not to be confused with the well-known Democratic congressman who serves a Pittsburgh-based district. This Mr. Doyle is president of the Plum Borough Council, which he joined in 2006.

The basic question remains: Is it time for the veteran incumbent to make way for someone offering new ideas? Mr. Doyle, the branch manager of an insurance company, is a plausible candidate thanks to his record of municipal service. He points to Plum's success in keeping a lid on spending and running a surplus, an agenda he wants to take to Harrisburg.

But Mr. Doyle is vague and unrealistic about how he would do that. For example, asked if he'd vote for the now-languishing report of Gov. Tom Corbett's transportation funding commission, he said no -- he does not want to raise taxes and fees, even though he thinks having so many decrepit bridges in Pennsylvania is unacceptable.

The commission recommended raising $2.7 billion for roads, bridges and public transit with measures such as lifting the cap on the wholesale gasoline tax and raising vehicle-registration and driver's-license fees.

So how would Mr. Doyle raise such a large sum? By falling back on the novice's standard remedy: eliminating waste in Harrisburg. It hasn't occurred to him that if that could be done so easily, the Corbett administration, along with the Republicans already in control of the House and Senate, would have done it already.

Mr. Doyle has the same problem with education. Coming from a family of teachers, he doesn't like the governor's budget cuts for schools but has no real solution to suggest. He's also against the idea of a severance tax for Marcellus Shale drillers.

Rep. Markosek is realistic about the issues. He would take the tough vote to support the proposals of the governor's transportation panel. He rightly says Mr. Corbett has been "burying his head in the sand" on the need to support public transit and improve the state's "geriatric" infrastructure.

He also deplores the cuts in education, especially at a time when the economy is reviving and another state budget surplus is likely. He thinks the state has been foolish in rejecting reasonable sources of revenue -- by refusing to levy an extraction tax on gas drilling and by not closing the infamous Delaware corporate tax break.

Voters of the 25th District -- which includes Monroeville, Trafford, Pitcairn, Wall and parts of Murrysville, Plum and North Versailles -- may well decide in a few years that it is better served by a new legislator. But in this election, the still hard-working and devoted Joe Markosek has the edge -- and the Post-Gazette's endorsement.

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