Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Democratic Candidates for Governor -- Do Your Homework

McCord, McGinty, Schwartz, Wolf  
The primary election is just 2 weeks away. This week the first negative ads starting showing up on TV for the governor's race--one each from Rob McCord and Allyson Schwartz, and one from Governor Corbett. All the ads attack Tom Wolf, even Corbett's, though he isn't directly running against Wolf, at least not yet.

I researched each ad's claims. McCord's accusation of racism against Wolf seems to be totally baseless (Wolf was a campaign chair (apparently not a hands-on manager) in 2001 for a candidate who'd been accused, and found innocent, of causing a death during a race riot in 1969, over 30 years before). Most top Democrats in PA have asked McCord to take the ad down. Schwartz's accusation against Wolf said he dealt in "questionable business practices." That seems to be baseless as well. The practices she's accusing him of took place after he sold his company, which then fell on bad times because of the recession. Wolf rebought the company and the company recovered. Corbett said taxes went up after Wolf became tax collector. Really? I don't blame Berkheimer when taxes go up. I blame the government officials who voted in the tax raise. So whereas McCord gets the prize for nastiest ad, Corbett gets the prize for stupidest.

Anyway, I thought I'd take a look at each candidate's website and see where they stood on the issues (click on their names below and you can, too). It wasn't as easy as I thought. All the Democrats essentially support the same things, which I'll list first, but some added detailed plans which helped to differentiate them. I've added a link to their issues pages with each candidate below.

On JOBS, all said that they support raises in the minimum wage, protecting the rights of workers, and development of clean energy jobs. EDUCATION: all support reversing Corbett's cuts to education, full-time kindergarten and universal pre-K for 4 year-olds. Also, better access to higher ed within the state. NATURAL GAS: all support a tax on shale drilling to help support education and other programs. All say they would put better environmental protections in place for gas drilling. ENVIRONMENT: All would develop clean energy technology and renewable energy industries. All mentioned green building technologies. HEALTH: All would allow expanded Medicaid. INFRASTRUCTURE: All mentioned fixing PA's many structurally deficient bridges and older water and waste water treatment plants, but also making sure the whole state has access to broadband internet access.

Katie McGinty is hardly ever listed with the other candidates and isn't considered a serious candidate by most. I found her issue page to be rather sparse on details (though she claims to be the only candidate with definite plans for the issues). She does say she'd raise the minimum wage to $9 per hour.

Rob McCord calls for renew support for the state’s two largest industries – agriculture and tourism. He'd leverage Pennsylvania’s leadership in biomedical research to attract word-class talent, investment capital, and innovative start-ups, McCord calls for a 10% drillers’ tax. He says high school students should earn credit for college while still in high school. He calls for "innovative approaches" to health care, but not much else. He does have a "Working Families" section in his issues list, calling for a raise in the minimum wage to $10.70 in 2015, with an increase of .10 each year through 2024. Tipped minimum wage--from $2.83 to $5 in 2015, with .10 increases for the first 10 years, and to preserve a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour for student employees. He wants mandatory paid sick leave for all employees, and daycare that's affordable. He calls for the preservation of farmland and open space, and specifically mentions the development of wind, solar, geothermal and hydroelectricity, rather than just saying "clean energy". His site addresses gun safety laws and police concerns. That said, he gave less detail than Wolf and Schwartz, relying more on generic and vague phrases. And I have to admit, that attack ad turned me off to him. I don't want a governor who's that nasty.

Tom Wolf called for a rebuilding of PA’s manufacturing sector, starting with clean energy technology. He supports increasing the minimum wage to $10.10, plus pension reform. On education -- "Pennsylvania is one of only three states in the entire country that does not use a funding formula for distributing state education dollars to local school districts, and is far below the national average in terms of percentage of state funding -- contributing only 32%." He's the only candidate to mention access to higher ed for high achieving, low-income students and vets (everyone else mentioned the middle-class but not low-income). He wants investments in energy efficiency retrofits of commercial and residential real estate, to require the State to meet green building standards on all state-owned new large building projects, and the development of a public/private green jobs training program. He plans to reform campaign finance rules and institute ethics reforms. In health, he wants to set nurse-to-patient ratios and keep more Pennsylvania-trained primary care doctors in the state.

Allyson Schwartz would like to double the number of worker-trainees enrolled in registered apprenticeship programs, and bring together employers in targeted industries to provide joint training for workers. She'd reinvest in community colleges and in career and technical education. She also mentions making the distribution of school funding fair. She'd restore state support to higher education, freeze tuition at state universities, and relieve the education debt burden on middle-class families (nothing about low income). Her gas drilling tax would be 5%. She wants to require that 30 percent of our electricity comes from Tier I renewable resources by 2030, and to develop alternative transportation options. She'd strengthen Act 129, (which requires Pennsylvania electric distribution companies to conserve electricity), promote green building standards, and fund energy efficiency upgrades. She'd keep a moratorium on gas drilling in the Delaware River Basin to protect the water. She went into a bit more detail about  launching a PA Health Insurance Exchange (as well as expanding Medicaid). Her site covered Voting Rights, LGBT Rights, Gun Violence Prevention in more detail than anyone else's, and she has a separate section dealing with Veterans issues.

I encourage you to take a glance through the candidate's sites for issues you're interested in because I've had to really summarize here, especially for Wolf and Schwartz, who had a lot of meaty information on their sites. For me, it's mainly a contest between these two candidates--both seem to fully understand ALL the issues and both have some good solutions in mind. Right now, I'm undecided between them. Though I wish Schwartz hadn't put up that attack ad.

I should mention that on the GOP side, Governor Corbett's opposition, Robert Guzzardi, was taken off the ballot by the PA Supreme Court for not filing a statement of financial interests. He says he's still running a write-in campaign.

Please go do your homework on these candidates. Don't base your vote on things you hear on attack ads, which are almost always, at best, exaggerated, and at worst, bald-faced lies. The attack ad says more about the candidate doing the attacking than about the target. Be an informed voter.

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