A Democratic gubernatorial debate is scheduled to be televised across a number of channels tonight, and candidate Rep. Allyson Schwartz has taken advantage of the press-filled moment to release her plan for Pennsylvania.
Entitled “One Pennsylvania,” the 72-page document details her plans for the Commonwealth if elected governor. Schwartz details a number of policy proposals that she believes are important to the people of Pennsylvania. The document runs the gambit on hot-button issues, going over public education, expansion of voting rights, Pennsylvania’s infrastructure, healthcare, and the rights of women and the LGBT community.
“Allyson Schwartz will be a different type of governor,” the first page promises. “Her track record of accomplishment and breaking down barriers makes her uniquely qualified to shake up Harrisburg at a time when the status quo has never been more unacceptable. The only woman in the 20 member Pennsylvania Congressional Delegation and just the third woman ever elected to the state Senate, as Governor, Schwartz will set and demand high expectations for getting things done for Pennsylvania’s families.”
Here are a few highlights from Schwartz’s plan:
Schwartz’s first plan to help public education is a program called “Keystone Kids” that will guarantee universal access to voluntary pre-kindergarten for all four-year-olds over the length of a decade. The gubernatorial candidate believes this will help get Pennsylvania children ready for school and strengthen the economy. She also wants to create greater access to all-day kindergarten and decrease class sizes from kindergarten to third grade.
In the document, Schwartz’s campaign explains their reasoning for Keystone Kids as follows: “Decades of research demonstrates that quality preschool narrows the achievement gap, increases high school graduation rates, decreases the need for special education, prepares children for the 21st century economy, cuts crime rates, and reduces government costs over time.”
While Pennsylvania already has a pre-k access program, Pre-K Counts, it has served only 11,800 three-and-four-year-olds in 2011 to 2012. Schwartz would like to build upon this program through the use of a significant portion of her proposed natural gas tax.
Schwartz also promises that, within her first term, she will restore Governor Tom Corbett’s budget cuts to Pennsylvania’s schools.
Focusing on higher learning, Schwartz wants to make college easier to afford for the average student. She’ll promote partnerships with state universities and K-12 schools, along with giving high school seniors the opportunity to earn college credits while still in high school. She will also work to strengthen the PASSHE system.
Regarding charter schools, Schwartz fully supports the original intentions of these schools: “to serve as laboratories of innovation.” She will also oppose vouchers and fight to support teachers and their rights.
Schwartz has big plans for Pennsylvania in terms of restoring ethical values to the government and its officials. For her first month of office, she will create the position of Chief Integrity Officer. This individual’s sole job will be to “promote ethics and integrity in state government.”
Schwartz will also completely ban gifts for employees in the executive branch, require ethics training for state employees and forbid lobbyists from contributing to the legal defense funds of state officials.
The candidate devotes a decent section of this document to campaign finance reform. She will enact contribution limits, as Pennsylvania is one of a few states that allows essentially unlimited campaign donations. Schwartz wants to restrict personal loans to campaigns, creating the rule that if candidates donate more than $250,000 to their own cause, they will not be permitted to repay themselves with campaign funds. She will also increase personal finance disclosure for candidates and ban cash gifts contributions completely.
Schwartz has many plans for expanding the rights of Pennsylvania’s voters, including same-day and online registration, voting by mail, and early voting.
Protecting the Environment
To help protect Pennsylvania’s environment, Schwartz wants to enhance the alternative energy portfolio standard to require that utilities obtain 30 percent of their electricity from clean, Tier I renewable resources by 2030. She also aims to create more green jobs for the state and reduce carbon emissions.
Similar to her opponents, Schwartz has proposed a five percent severance tax for natural gas drillers to help fund various parts of her plan. This would include financing energy efficiency upgrades across the state.
Since kicking her campaign into high gear over the last couple of weeks, one of Schwartz’s biggest points that she continues to reiterate is her role in passing the Affordable Care Act. She has also been called the “mother of CHIP” in reference to her role in helping insure a number of children in Pennsylvania. So it comes as no surprise that the healthcare section of her plan goes into some great detail as to how she would like to offer quality and affordable care for everyone in the Commonwealth.
She wants to expand Medicaid, which would provide coverage for over 500,000 Pennsylvanians, along with ensuring healthcare for both children and women. Schwartz will also fight for seniors in protecting Medicare, strengthening the workforce of homecare workers and making prescriptions more affordable.
In terms of healthcare facilities, Schwartz will invest in more advanced healthcare technology, work for Pennsylvania’s teaching hospitals, and help doctors in moving to electronic prescriptions.
Coming down to the last few weeks before the Democratic primary election, Schwartz faces State Treasurer Rob McCord, former Revenue Secretary Tom Wolf, and former DEP Secretary Katie McGinty.