State Rep. Jim Christiana of the 15th Legislative District is serving his fifth and final term in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
Committed to openness, transparency and accountability at all levels of government, Jim has authored legislation to make over $60 billion in annual government spending available online to Pennsylvania taxpayers. In 2011, his legislation to create PENNWATCH, the Pennsylvania Web Accountability, Transparency and Contract Hub, was signed into law. The online database of all state government expenditures was launched in 2012. Following the success of PennWATCH, Jim led efforts to expand transparency to Pennsylvania’s traditional, charter and cyber school districts. His SchoolWATCH legislation became Act 86 of 2016.
Jim is a firm believer that Pennsylvania is home to a diverse student population and a one-size-fits-all approach to basic education will not meet the needs of every student in the 21st century. He believes every child should have access to a high-quality education, and as a result, has authored and supported initiatives to help rescue children of low-income families from failing school districts, restore education funding in the state budget and create an education marketplace.
Jim has been a strong advocate for expansion of the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program and the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) program, which he established through Act 85 of 2012. In Jim’s eight years in the House of Representatives, his legislation has made an additional $325 million in scholarships available to students through these programs. He authored two bills to eliminate bureaucratic hurdles and enhance the flexibility of the funding to allow more Pennsylvania students to benefit from these programs, which were signed into law in 2014 and 2016.
Jim also helped secure approved private school status for the McGuire Memorial School, which provides specialized education services to students with multiple and/or profound disabilities. Becoming Beaver County’s first approved private school helped to ease the financial burden on school districts and local property taxes by authorizing the state to pick up a majority of its students’ tuition costs.
In 2013, he led efforts to increase efficiency in our education system by advocating for long-term support for the state’s first voluntary school merger. Act 39 of 2013 assisted Monaca and Center school districts as they merged into the Central Valley School District. In addition, he co-sponsored Act 82 of 2012, which created a statewide evaluation system, providing educators with meaningful job performance feedback to children have access to the best teachers.
In the 2011-12 legislative session, Jim introduced historic legislation aimed at securing a multi-billion dollar petrochemical plant in western Pennsylvania. His efforts led to Shell’s decision to build the first petrochemical plant in the northeast portion of the United States in Beaver County, bringing with it more than 7,500 new jobs. Jim’s legislation, the Pennsylvania Resource Manufacturing Tax Credit, provides earned incentives to any company that builds a petrochemical plant in the Commonwealth. This tax credit helped spur economic revitalization and long-term job growth in western Pennsylvania and across the state.
Reaching across the aisle for the greater good of Pennsylvania citizens, Jim partnered with another western Pennsylvania lawmaker to introduce a bipartisan solution to the long-time contract dispute between two major western Pennsylvania health care systems, UPMC and Highmark. Known as the Patient Access and Consumer Choice Act, the package sought to prevent consumers from being denied access based on insurance coverage.
In his community, Jim serves as a member of the Penn State Beaver Advisory Board, as well as the Beaver County YMCA Board, where he chaired the capital campaigns in 2012 and 2013. He is also the co-founder and chairman of the Big Brothers Big Sisters Ambassadors’ Council, which works to reduce the waiting list for individuals seeking a Big Brother or Big Sister.
His service as a state legislator follows his initial immersion into public service as the youngest councilman in Beaver Borough history. First elected to that office in 2005, Jim chaired Beaver Council’s Finance Committee. In that role, he proved his dedication to protecting the taxpayers by sponsoring and delivering a property tax cut for Beaver Borough residents.
Jim is a 2002 graduate of Beaver High School and a 2006 Washington & Jefferson College graduate with a major in political science. Jim is currently attending night classes at Widener University to earn his Juris Doctor. He is a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Beaver.
In August 2012, Jim married his college sweetheart, Jayann, and they currently reside in Beaver with their son, Nolan.
PA School Choice Champion of the Year – Pennsylvania Council for American Private Education
2012 Big Brother of the Year Award – Beaver County Big Brothers/Big Sisters
Guardian of Small Business Award – National Federation of Independent Business
Charter School Champion Award – PA Families for Public Cyber Schools & PA Coalition of Public Charter Schools
Commitment to Education Award – Business Leadership Organized for Catholic Schools (BLOCS)
Fast Track Community Leader – The Pittsburgh Foundation
40 Under 40 Award – Pittsburgh Magazine and Pittsburgh Urban Magnet Project (PUMP)
2017-18 Committee Assignments
House Appropriations Committee
House Professional Licensure Committee
House Commerce Committee
House State Government Committee
• Property Tax Relief Caucus
• Community College Caucus
• Gas and Oil Caucus
• Steel Caucus
• Autism Caucus
• Pro-Life Caucus
• PA Fair Caucus
• Agriculture Caucus
• American-Italian Caucus
• Cigar Caucus
• YMCA Caucus
Learn more on his Facebook page
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