I believe that every student in the Commonwealth deserves the best education possible. The current education funding model in Pennsylvania is broken and needs to be fixed to ensure a fairer system of education for all districts and all students. Pennsylvania needs to continue to improve investments in education in order to close one of the worst education funding gaps in the nation. Districts are forced to rely too heavily on local funding, which results in an unfair education system for poorer schools and an unfair property tax burden on every resident in the Commonwealth. I will support continued increases in education funding and work to close the education funding gap.
We need Harrisburg to make infrastructure a top priority. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave Pennsylvania a “C-” on its infrastructure report card due to components of our infrastructure serving well beyond its intended lifespan, and as a result, is deteriorating. Pennsylvania needs to divert more funding into improving infrastructure, not only to fix the failing systems, but to reap the future increased economic benefits of a prosperous infrastructure.
With income inequality and stagnant wages, unions are an important asset for workers now more than ever. Unions are needed for more workers in Pennsylvania to increase wages and benefits for our working-class. Pennsylvanians need more legislators that will fight hard for our unions to increase collective bargaining rights and ensure that we NEVER become a “Right to Work” (for less) state.
The Shell cracker plant has provided a great economic boom for our area by employing over 5,000 workers...temporarily. Once construction is complete, there will only be 600 permanent positions available. We need to continue to work off of this economic boom and work for more sustainable industries coming into the region to provide more permanent and more stable employment.
The tax burden on Pennsylvanians is too high. Part of this burden can be reduced by imposing a natural gas severance tax, since we are the only major gas producing state to not have one. The only state to produce more natural gas than Pennsylvania is Texas, and they produce about 20% more natural gas than we do, but they also have a severance tax on gas extraction. As a result, Texas receives 700% more tax revenue from natural gas extraction than Pennsylvania does from our impact fee. Opponents argue that it will deter industry, but that is not the case. Pennsylvania is simply missing out on hundreds of millions of dollars every year.
Pennsylvania also has the second highest corporate tax rate in the nation, behind Iowa. Harrisburg can feasibly lower this tax to a more suitable level and still increase revenue by closing the infamous Delaware Tax Loophole, which is a corporate welfare loophole designed to benefit the biggest corporations. Enacting this proposal would result in increased revenue for the Commonwealth, while ensuring that large corporations pay their fair share and don’t leave smaller corporations picking up the tax bill. We need to ensure that our small businesses can grow and we end corporate welfare for mega corporations.
Pennsylvania needs quality healthcare that our residents can afford. More and more states are passing legislation to impose a price cap on insulin and it is past due for Pennsylvania to do the same in an effort to combat the skyrocketing cost of the life-saving drug. We shouldn’t end there. We need to secure lower prescription prices across the board and safeguard Medicaid expansion and CHIP funding. Nobody should have to choose between paying for life-saving prescription drugs and paying their bills.
We are past due for a more reasonable minimum wage. All bordering states to Pennsylvania have a higher minimum wage and it is time to join our neighbors. I support gradual increases in minimum wage to keep up with the cost of inflation. When increasing the minimum wage in gradual, small increases, workers gain more spending power to spur the economy and the gradual increases aren’t enough to induce inflation.