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Forum of Four Democratic Candidates for Governor

 Education,Environment, Health Care and Dream Act

J.Smith/El Hispano

Philadelphia – Columnist George Will has curmudgeonly observed that candidate debates are those “spectacles we persist in dignifying.”  

   Disregarding Will’s cynicism, more than 300 Philadelphia Democrats filled S. Broad street’s Gershwin Auditorium, Sunday, to hear four of the five Democratic Gubernatorial candidates square off in a nearly two hour debate.

  Discussing a wide range of issues that included education funding, health care, the environment and corporate tax loopholes, the foursome of Allyson Schwartz, Jack Wagner, Rob McCord and Kate McGinty were decidedly in accord on nearly every issue, but each gave the audience a non-televised glimpse into their backgrounds, personalities and persuasive abilities two months ahead of the May 20th primary.

  The former Auditor General, Pittsburgh City Councilman and U.S. Marine Corps Veteran, Jack Wagner, struck a note of consensus early on, saying, “If anyone in this room doesn’t think we need a change in state government, they’re from another planet.”

    On the proposed Healthy PA health care plan proposed by Gov. Corbett,  Katie McGinty, a former advisor on environmental issues to both Vice President Al Gore and President Bill Clinton, and later Secretary of Environmental Protection for Gov. Rendell, suggested the need to look at Gov. Corbett’s “track record.”

  “This is a Governor whose Attorney General fought tooth and nail to stop the availability of health care coverage.  He’s not changed his stripes,” continued McGinty, 50, a Northeast Philadelphia native who graduated from St. Joseph’s University with a degree in Chemistry and later earned a law degree from Columbia University.

 Using colorful jibes throughout the forum, McGinty recalled Gov. Corbett’s having “crocodile tears over the CHIP program, when he presided over nearly 8,000 young kids” being removed from the program.

  U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, a Bryn Mawr graduate similarly denounced Corbett’s decision not to expand Medicaid and to “have rejected our taxpayer dollars that would have come home to cover 500,000” residents under the Affordable Care Act.

 For Jack Wagner it simply demonstrated the current Governor’s lack of “common sense.”

   “We are denying our own resources coming back to serve our own people.  It’s ludicrous,” said Wagner. “It’s is another tea party initiative.  An initiative that represents (this) very conservative administration.”

 Pennsylvania State Treasurer Rob McCord described the Corbett proposal as both “immoral and inefficient,” a phrase he repeated for emphasis.

    After reiterating that the Governor had rejected “your taxpayer dollars” that would have covered 500,000 residents, McCord also referred to the administration pulling back on a provision for “disproportionate care.”  McCord noted that this funding supports “health care providers” in areas like Southeastern Pennsylvania and Philadelphia, where “less affluent people” fill emergency rooms needing care.  

Wondering whether Corbett is “just misinformed,” McCord drew sustained applause when he argued that, “Medicaid is more efficient, not less efficient” than Governor’s “short-term, profit-maximizing” solutions.  

   Discussing access to abortion in Pennsylvania, McCord asserted, “We need to make  private and personal” health care decisions. He then stressed the need to “prevent unwanted pregnancies.”

 Ms. McGinty dismissed the notion that this is about “tax-funded abortions.”

 “This is about whether individuals and women in particular have the right to shop for and choose the health care that is best for them.”

 “This is part of a much larger story of this Governor’s absolute hostility to the rights, abilities, future and potential of women,” continued McGinty, a mother three daughters.  “If he really wants to support women, he can start by “increasing the minimum wage.”

   On abortion question, Jack Wagner described himself as a “pro-life Democrat.”

 Questioned about Corbett’s cuts to and efforts to impose asset requirements for food assistance or SNAP program, McGinty called it “wrongheaded.”

  “The leader of this commonwealth should lift people up and give them the ability to prosper,” said McGinty, “and this is going in exactly the opposite direction.”

   “These types of cuts have been going on” since Gov. Ridge,” said Allyson Schwartz.

As Auditor General, Jack Wagner says he saw plenty of “fraud and waste” in government assistance programs. But of the SNAP food assistance program, “we never found that.”  

 The former Pittsburgh City Councilman added, that “we can actually save monies in certain programs if we do a good job a managing them.”

   Recalling that his mother suffered from “economic insecurity,” Rob McCord said the issue “motivates me.”

“I know that good, hardworking people are often touched by poverty,” continued McCord. “And it’s important not to blame the victim.”  

   The issue of funds for public housing drifted into a critique of Gov. Corbett’s failure to adequately tax Marcellus Shale drilling.

  Calling for a 5% extraction tax on Shale oil, Rep. Allyson Schwartz said the next governor could use the added funds to “support affordable” public housing.

 “This is a Commonwealth, and these natural resources belong to all of us,” said Mr. Wagner. And any “natural resources” that are taken out of the ground “we should get something in return.”

  “It’s unbelievable that states as conservative as Texas, Oklahoma and Alaska, have a revenue source and are using it” for various purposes.    

  Mr. McCord urged “robust environmental protection” policies, which he says begins with a ten percent extraction tax on Marcellus Shale drilling.
 Referring to his “business background,” McCord dismissed the fear that industries will “move the jobs away based on how much they have to pay a state government.”

  That’s never the case “when it comes to a natural resource,” said McCord.

 Noting that West Virginia’s extraction tax has “twelve times the impact” of Corbett’s fee, Ms. McGinty argued,”I think Pennsylvanians deserve equal or better than anybody else.  It’s an unacceptable statistic.”

 There was unanimity also on the need to eliminate the Delaware loophole which enables local companies to avoid taxes.

   “The very conservative (Corbett) administration and the General Assembly won’t touch that issue,” said Mr. Wagner. “But it needs to be addressed and there is significant savings,” if it’s eliminated.

  All four candidates were in agreement on more stringent monitoring and “transparency” in regards to funding Charter/Cyber schools. And citing their immigrant family backgrounds, they unanimously backed passage of the state’s Dream Act.

   Disappointed in that the current leading candidate opted out of the forum, Melissa Robins of Media M. P. said she liked the “passion” of Rob McCord.

   Pleased with her strong statements on behalf of “women’s health care and economic security,” Doris Thomas said she was voting for Rep. Allyson Schwartz.

   Although they can’t vote, a pair of high school students, T. Santiago and B. Morales distributed McGinty signs outside the Gershwin Hall.

 Both said they identified with her: “She’s like us, she comes from a big lower-middle class family and she made it. And she wants to help students.”  Ms. McGinty is the daughter of a retired Philadelphia Police officer and has nine brothers and sisters.   

      Candidate Tom Wolf was attending a previously scheduled event in Pittsburgh.

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Forum of Four Democratic Candidates for Governor

 Education,Environment, Health Care and Dream Act

J.Smith/El Hispano

Philadelphia – Columnist George Will has curmudgeonly observed that candidate debates are those “spectacles we persist in dignifying.”  

   Disregarding Will’s cynicism, more than 300 Philadelphia Democrats filled S. Broad street’s Gershwin Auditorium, Sunday, to hear four of the five Democratic Gubernatorial candidates square off in a nearly two hour debate.

  Discussing a wide range of issues that included education funding, health care, the environment and corporate tax loopholes, the foursome of Allyson Schwartz, Jack Wagner, Rob McCord and Kate McGinty were decidedly in accord on nearly every issue, but each gave the audience a non-televised glimpse into their backgrounds, personalities and persuasive abilities two months ahead of the May 20th primary.

  The former Auditor General, Pittsburgh City Councilman and U.S. Marine Corps Veteran, Jack Wagner, struck a note of consensus early on, saying, “If anyone in this room doesn’t think we need a change in state government, they’re from another planet.”

    On the proposed Healthy PA health care plan proposed by Gov. Corbett,  Katie McGinty, a former advisor on environmental issues to both Vice President Al Gore and President Bill Clinton, and later Secretary of Environmental Protection for Gov. Rendell, suggested the need to look at Gov. Corbett’s “track record.”

  “This is a Governor whose Attorney General fought tooth and nail to stop the availability of health care coverage.  He’s not changed his stripes,” continued McGinty, 50, a Northeast Philadelphia native who graduated from St. Joseph’s University with a degree in Chemistry and later earned a law degree from Columbia University.

 Using colorful jibes throughout the forum, McGinty recalled Gov. Corbett’s having “crocodile tears over the CHIP program, when he presided over nearly 8,000 young kids” being removed from the program.

  U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, a Bryn Mawr graduate similarly denounced Corbett’s decision not to expand Medicaid and to “have rejected our taxpayer dollars that would have come home to cover 500,000” residents under the Affordable Care Act.

 For Jack Wagner it simply demonstrated the current Governor’s lack of “common sense.”

   “We are denying our own resources coming back to serve our own people.  It’s ludicrous,” said Wagner. “It’s is another tea party initiative.  An initiative that represents (this) very conservative administration.”

 Pennsylvania State Treasurer Rob McCord described the Corbett proposal as both “immoral and inefficient,” a phrase he repeated for emphasis.

    After reiterating that the Governor had rejected “your taxpayer dollars” that would have covered 500,000 residents, McCord also referred to the administration pulling back on a provision for “disproportionate care.”  McCord noted that this funding supports “health care providers” in areas like Southeastern Pennsylvania and Philadelphia, where “less affluent people” fill emergency rooms needing care.  

Wondering whether Corbett is “just misinformed,” McCord drew sustained applause when he argued that, “Medicaid is more efficient, not less efficient” than Governor’s “short-term, profit-maximizing” solutions.  

   Discussing access to abortion in Pennsylvania, McCord asserted, “We need to make  private and personal” health care decisions. He then stressed the need to “prevent unwanted pregnancies.”

 Ms. McGinty dismissed the notion that this is about “tax-funded abortions.”

 “This is about whether individuals and women in particular have the right to shop for and choose the health care that is best for them.”

 “This is part of a much larger story of this Governor’s absolute hostility to the rights, abilities, future and potential of women,” continued McGinty, a mother three daughters.  “If he really wants to support women, he can start by “increasing the minimum wage.”

   On abortion question, Jack Wagner described himself as a “pro-life Democrat.”

 Questioned about Corbett’s cuts to and efforts to impose asset requirements for food assistance or SNAP program, McGinty called it “wrongheaded.”

  “The leader of this commonwealth should lift people up and give them the ability to prosper,” said McGinty, “and this is going in exactly the opposite direction.”

   “These types of cuts have been going on” since Gov. Ridge,” said Allyson Schwartz.

As Auditor General, Jack Wagner says he saw plenty of “fraud and waste” in government assistance programs. But of the SNAP food assistance program, “we never found that.”  

 The former Pittsburgh City Councilman added, that “we can actually save monies in certain programs if we do a good job a managing them.”

   Recalling that his mother suffered from “economic insecurity,” Rob McCord said the issue “motivates me.”

“I know that good, hardworking people are often touched by poverty,” continued McCord. “And it’s important not to blame the victim.”  

   The issue of funds for public housing drifted into a critique of Gov. Corbett’s failure to adequately tax Marcellus Shale drilling.

  Calling for a 5% extraction tax on Shale oil, Rep. Allyson Schwartz said the next governor could use the added funds to “support affordable” public housing.

 “This is a Commonwealth, and these natural resources belong to all of us,” said Mr. Wagner. And any “natural resources” that are taken out of the ground “we should get something in return.”

  “It’s unbelievable that states as conservative as Texas, Oklahoma and Alaska, have a revenue source and are using it” for various purposes.    

  Mr. McCord urged “robust environmental protection” policies, which he says begins with a ten percent extraction tax on Marcellus Shale drilling.
 Referring to his “business background,” McCord dismissed the fear that industries will “move the jobs away based on how much they have to pay a state government.”

  That’s never the case “when it comes to a natural resource,” said McCord.

 Noting that West Virginia’s extraction tax has “twelve times the impact” of Corbett’s fee, Ms. McGinty argued,”I think Pennsylvanians deserve equal or better than anybody else.  It’s an unacceptable statistic.”

 There was unanimity also on the need to eliminate the Delaware loophole which enables local companies to avoid taxes.

   “The very conservative (Corbett) administration and the General Assembly won’t touch that issue,” said Mr. Wagner. “But it needs to be addressed and there is significant savings,” if it’s eliminated.

  All four candidates were in agreement on more stringent monitoring and “transparency” in regards to funding Charter/Cyber schools. And citing their immigrant family backgrounds, they unanimously backed passage of the state’s Dream Act.

   Disappointed in that the current leading candidate opted out of the forum, Melissa Robins of Media M. P. said she liked the “passion” of Rob McCord.

   Pleased with her strong statements on behalf of “women’s health care and economic security,” Doris Thomas said she was voting for Rep. Allyson Schwartz.

   Although they can’t vote, a pair of high school students, T. Santiago and B. Morales distributed McGinty signs outside the

Forum of Four Democratic Candidates for Governor

 Education,Environment, Health Care and Dream Act

J.Smith/El Hispano

Philadelphia – Columnist George Will has curmudgeonly observed that candidate debates are those “spectacles we persist in dignifying.”  

   Disregarding Will’s cynicism, more than 300 Philadelphia Democrats filled S. Broad street’s Gershwin Auditorium, Sunday, to hear four of the five Democratic Gubernatorial candidates square off in a nearly two hour debate.

  Discussing a wide range of issues that included education funding, health care, the environment and corporate tax loopholes, the foursome of Allyson Schwartz, Jack Wagner, Rob McCord and Kate McGinty were decidedly in accord on nearly every issue, but each gave the audience a non-televised glimpse into their backgrounds, personalities and persuasive abilities two months ahead of the May 20th primary.

  The former Auditor General, Pittsburgh City Councilman and U.S. Marine Corps Veteran, Jack Wagner, struck a note of consensus early on, saying, “If anyone in this room doesn’t think we need a change in state government, they’re from another planet.”

    On the proposed Healthy PA health care plan proposed by Gov. Corbett,  Katie McGinty, a former advisor on environmental issues to both Vice President Al Gore and President Bill Clinton, and later Secretary of Environmental Protection for Gov. Rendell, suggested the need to look at Gov. Corbett’s “track record.”

  “This is a Governor whose Attorney General fought tooth and nail to stop the availability of health care coverage.  He’s not changed his stripes,” continued McGinty, 50, a Northeast Philadelphia native who graduated from St. Joseph’s University with a degree in Chemistry and later earned a law degree from Columbia University.

 Using colorful jibes throughout the forum, McGinty recalled Gov. Corbett’s having “crocodile tears over the CHIP program, when he presided over nearly 8,000 young kids” being removed from the program.

  U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, a Bryn Mawr graduate similarly denounced Corbett’s decision not to expand Medicaid and to “have rejected our taxpayer dollars that would have come home to cover 500,000” residents under the Affordable Care Act.

 For Jack Wagner it simply demonstrated the current Governor’s lack of “common sense.”

   “We are denying our own resources coming back to serve our own people.  It’s ludicrous,” said Wagner. “It’s is another tea party initiative.  An initiative that represents (this) very conservative administration.”

 Pennsylvania State Treasurer Rob McCord described the Corbett proposal as both “immoral and inefficient,” a phrase he repeated for emphasis.

    After reiterating that the Governor had rejected “your taxpayer dollars” that would have covered 500,000 residents, McCord also referred to the administration pulling back on a provision for “disproportionate care.”  McCord noted that this funding supports “health care providers” in areas like Southeastern Pennsylvania and Philadelphia, where “less affluent people” fill emergency rooms needing care.  

Wondering whether Corbett is “just misinformed,” McCord drew sustained applause when he argued that, “Medicaid is more efficient, not less efficient” than Governor’s “short-term, profit-maximizing” solutions.  

   Discussing access to abortion in Pennsylvania, McCord asserted, “We need to make  private and personal” health care decisions. He then stressed the need to “prevent unwanted pregnancies.”

 Ms. McGinty dismissed the notion that this is about “tax-funded abortions.”

 “This is about whether individuals and women in particular have the right to shop for and choose the health care that is best for them.”

 “This is part of a much larger story of this Governor’s absolute hostility to the rights, abilities, future and potential of women,” continued McGinty, a mother three daughters.  “If he really wants to support women, he can start by “increasing the minimum wage.”

   On abortion question, Jack Wagner described himself as a “pro-life Democrat.”

 Questioned about Corbett’s cuts to and efforts to impose asset requirements for food assistance or SNAP program, McGinty called it “wrongheaded.”

  “The leader of this commonwealth should lift people up and give them the ability to prosper,” said McGinty, “and this is going in exactly the opposite direction.”

   “These types of cuts have been going on” since Gov. Ridge,” said Allyson Schwartz.

As Auditor General, Jack Wagner says he saw plenty of “fraud and waste” in government assistance programs. But of the SNAP food assistance program, “we never found that.”  

 The former Pittsburgh City Councilman added, that “we can actually save monies in certain programs if we do a good job a managing them.”

   Recalling that his mother suffered from “economic insecurity,” Rob McCord said the issue “motivates me.”

“I know that good, hardworking people are often touched by poverty,” continued McCord. “And it’s important not to blame the victim.”  

   The issue of funds for public housing drifted into a critique of Gov. Corbett’s failure to adequately tax Marcellus Shale drilling.

  Calling for a 5% extraction tax on Shale oil, Rep. Allyson Schwartz said the next governor could use the added funds to “support affordable” public housing.

 “This is a Commonwealth, and these natural resources belong to all of us,” said Mr. Wagner. And any “natural resources” that are taken out of the ground “we should get something in return.”

  “It’s unbelievable that states as conservative as Texas, Oklahoma and Alaska, have a revenue source and are using it” for various purposes.    

  Mr. McCord urged “robust environmental protection” policies, which he says begins with a ten percent extraction tax on Marcellus Shale drilling.
 Referring to his “business background,” McCord dismissed the fear that industries will “move the jobs away based on how much they have to pay a state government.”

  That’s never the case “when it comes to a natural resource,” said McCord.

 Noting that West Virginia’s extraction tax has “twelve times the impact” of Corbett’s fee, Ms. McGinty argued,”I think Pennsylvanians deserve equal or better than anybody else.  It’s an unacceptable statistic.”

 There was unanimity also on the need to eliminate the Delaware loophole which enables local companies to avoid taxes.

   “The very conservative (Corbett) administration and the General Assembly won’t touch that issue,” said Mr. Wagner. “But it needs to be addressed and there is significant savings,” if it’s eliminated.

  All four candidates were in agreement on more stringent monitoring and “transparency” in regards to funding Charter/Cyber schools. And citing their immigrant family backgrounds, they unanimously backed passage of the state’s Dream Act.

   Disappointed in that the current leading candidate opted out of the forum, Melissa Robins of Media M. P. said she liked the “passion” of Rob McCord.

   Pleased with her strong statements on behalf of “women’s health care and economic security,” Doris Thomas said she was voting for Rep. Allyson Schwartz.

   Although they can’t vote, a pair of high school students, T. Santiago and B. Morales distributed McGinty signs outside the Gershwin Hall.

 Both said they identified with her: “She’s like us, she comes from a big lower-middle class family and she made it. And she wants to help students.”  Ms. McGinty is the daughter of a retired Philadelphia Police officer and has nine brothers and sisters.   

      Candidate Tom Wolf was attending a previously scheduled event in Pittsburgh.

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