PA-Gov: Wolf Releases Comprehensive Policy Plan
Snowed in on a cold winter’s day? May as well curl up with a hot cup of whatever you’d like and read all about Tom Wolf’s Fresh Start for Pennsylvania Policy Plan, released by his campaign.
The 46-page document delves deeply into Wolf’s prospective policies for the state. He covers jobs, the revival of Pennsylvania’s economy, the state’s natural resources and making the government “work harder and smarter.”
Early on, it’s explained that he will fund his policy plan through a five percent extraction tax on natural gas, a 30 percent tax on smokeless tobacco and cigars, closing tax loopholes (such as the infamous Delaware loophole), addressing special interest tax subsidies, reforming the Corporate Net Income Tax, improving and modernizing government operations and building private partnerships.
Also an early note, Wolf mentions raising the minimum wage in a section entitled “Level the Playing Field,” something he called out Governor Tom Corbett for back in December 2013. This, along with setting the right to paid sick leave and making sure that all workers have equal access to employment, will help Pennsylvanians strengthen themselves and therefore their state.
Elections and Voting:
In his plan, Wolf addresses the as-of-late hot topic of campaign finance reform, where he states that he is all for it. The Center For Public Integrity recently gave Pennsylvania an “F” in its investigation because of the state’s combination of a lack of limits on contributions and poor access for the public to online finance reports.
Wolf wants to set campaign contribution limits of $5,000 per year for individuals and lobbyists, create stricter reporting requirements for contributions, establish a voluntary public financing program and require third party campaign that spend at least $10,000 per year for elections to identify all sources of funds.
The policy plan also talks about voting rights. Wolf plans to make it easier for Pennsylvanians to vote in a couple of different ways, including through the creation of online ballots and allowing for same day registration. The latter, the plan reports, has increased voting participation by up to four percentage points.
With the claim that Corbett has “gutted” Pennsylvania’s education system, Wolf states that he plans to restore the $1 billion in education cuts that Corbett made. Those cuts are the result of a reduction in federal stimulus dollars available.
Along with the lengthy list of improvements he plans on making for public education, Wolf also talks about his charter school plan, which was released late last year. Yet another hot topic, the gubernatorial candidate offers a plan to increase access to higher education for everyone. This would include making it more affordable and supporting a Pennsylvania DREAM Act.
Much of the policy addresses the current state of Pennsylvania’s economy and how Wolf plans to up its productivity. He wants to create a multi-state partnership for the easier movement of goods and services as well as the implementation of a ‘Made in Pennsylvania’ cash back program, where manufacturing companies that create middle-class jobs will be rewarded for the effort.
It is reported in the policy plan that Pennsylvania has fallen from 7th to 41st in job creation over the past few years, and Wolf plans to fix that in creating as many jobs as he can through his experience as a businessman. One of the ways he states he can do this is through the expansion of Medicaid in the Affordable Care Act, which will not only provide these new jobs but will also provide over 500,000 currently uninsured, middle and low-income Pennsylvanians with healthcare.
In regards to taxation of drilling in the Marcellus Shale, Wolf plans to use these funds to invest in schools, the state’s poor quality roads, infrastructure, economic development and workforce training. He will also ensure that companies that choose to drill in Pennsylvania do so responsibly and protect the environment.
Overall, Wolf’s policy plan contains much of what he and other Democratic candidates have talked about doing, just with many more details. He is the first to release a comprehensive policy brief that covers this breadth and depth of issues.
In the Democratic primary, Wolf faces State Treasurer Rob McCord, Rep. Allyson Schwartz, former PA DEP Secretaries Katie McGinty and John Hanger, pastor Max Myers and Lebanon County Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz.