Monthly Archives: May 2010

Corbett v. Onorato for PA Governor

With the primaries done, two candidates have emerged in the final run for Pennsylvania Governor, 2010: Tom Corbett and Dan Onorato. In this blog post, I’ll try to compare their stances to reach a better understanding of what each plans to bring to the table if elected governor.

Update — WHYY’s Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane has an interview with Dan Onorato. Listen to it at their website, or find it in the iTunes store under the Radio Times podcast. On the program, Marty Moss-Coane says they are looking into setting up an interview in the coming weeks with Tom Corbett as well.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has an overview of the candidates as well.

(NOTE: Most information here has been taken from the candidates’ websites and policy papers. To view them, click on the links provided at the beginning of each candidates’ sections.)

Government Reform

  • Corbett
    • Calling for a 10% reduction in administrative costs
    • Plans to upgrade technology and communications among various government agencies in order to make them more efficient and cut costs.
    • Increase transparency by “enhanc[ing] the current online contracts database to include all aspects of the state budget as well as all revenues and expenditures.”
    • Eliminate “Walking Around Money” (money legislators have to give out to various groups) and discretionary spending
    • Eliminating per diem expenses given to legislators
    • Reducing state-owned vehicles by 20%
    • Change to a two-year budget cycle
    • State agencies must meet performance goals in order to retain funding
    • “Cap the legislative surplus at a percentage of the House and Senate annual operating budgets.”
    • Audit state boards and commissions
    • Limit of 5 years for a new board or commission
    • Consolidate services where possible to increase efficiency
    • Introducing health insurance co-pays for representatives
    • Banning political contributions when government contract are being bid on
  • Onorato
    • Campaign finance limits
    • Ban appointed officials from accepting free gifts given by lobbyists “with business before the Administration”
    • Require lobbyists to disclose which branch of government they are lobbying and itemize lobbyist expenditures issue-by-issue
    • “Cooling off period” banning former officials from working for industries they once regulated for two years
    • Increase voter participation by ending the requirement for certain criteria to be met in order to submit an absentee ballot
    • Stop the legislature from setting its own pay by establishing an independent commission with a fixed term that will be responsible for setting salary for elected officials
    • Eliminating per diem expenses given to legislators
    • Stopping legislator use of state-owned vehicles unless it will be cheaper than mileage reimbursement
    • Introducing health insurance co-pays for representatives
    • Eliminate legislative perks (like free cell phones)
    • 12-year term limit for PA Senators and Representatives
    • Cut costs by shrinking the size of the legislature
    • “Using the legislative surplus for the public interest through the transparent appropriation process.”
    • End gerrymandering by establishing an independent commission to redraw districts (via PA Constitutional Amendment)
    • Withhold officials’ pay if they do not have a budget by deadline
    • Eliminate “Walking Around Money” (money legislators have to give out to various groups)
    • Create a public internet database to increase transparency on state spending
    • End sole source contracts.
    • Strengthen the Inspector General to increase audits of government-funded programs
    • “Expand the pipeline for political leadership by reaching beyond the normal pathways to power in the appointments that he makes to agency management positions, boards and commissions – which are often a stepping stone to future elected office and other leadership opportunities – and by consulting with stakeholder groups on strategies to increase participation.”
    • Raise the fine for violating the Right to Know “Sunshine Law” (access to government information) to $500.

–Economy and Jobs

  • Corbett
    • Create a wireless broadband infrastructure to foster innovation
    • Create “Discovered in PA-Developed in PA” — a public-private partnership among universities and the government that will aim to help “move new ideas from the lab to the marketplace”
    • Help entrepreneurs gain access to start-up funds and tax credits
    • Provide loan money to local lenders and economic development organizations that will lend it out to new companies so they can grow and create jobs
    • Work with universities to support new industries (such as green technology and information technology)
    • “Empower the Governor’s Action Team to further its marketing efforts by creating a targeted marketing program to grow job development in Pennsylvania” and to “coordinate across regions to make certain that Pennsylvania meets the needs of all jobs creators”
    • Support growth green technology that will make PA competitive on the green market and also help save money on energy
    • “Develop grants and incentives for investors”
    • Support transportation infrastructure
    • Support use of Pennsylvania’s natural resources (ex: Marcellus Shale), in addition to developing green tech
    • “Partner with entrepreneurs to serve water delivery and elimination needs while safeguarding the commonwealth’s environmental quality”
    • Maintain the phase-out of the Capital Stock and Franchise Tax that was begun in 2009
    • Reduce the Corporate Net Income Tax to 6.99% over six years
    • Remove the Net Operating Loss Cap
    • Repeal the Inheritance Tax
    • Reform property tax
    • Shift tax burden from PA companies to out-of-state firms that do not own PA assets, nor employ PA workers
    • Support a Research and Development Tax Credit
    • Implement a Tradable Net Operating Loss (TNOL) that will allow start-up companies to sell their losses to other firms that want to reduce their tax liability (capped at $20 million)
    • Empower the Revenue Secretary to investigate and fight tax fraud
    • Streamline the tax dispute process
    • “Reinstitute the “Money Back Guarantee” program in DEP and other regulatory agencies to ensure that permits are reviewed and decisions are made in a timely manner.”
    • Review the effectiveness of regulations
    • “Adopt uniform administration of programs and regulatory consistency”
    • Reduce paperwork by requiring all state agencies to clear the addition of new forms and paperwork with the Governor’s office first
    • Pass the “Fair Share Act” to stop people in lawsuits from paying “100 percent of damages despite having had only a minor role in an incident that generated the lawsuit”
    • “Require plaintiffs to obtain verification from a licensed professional that a product is defective and has caused injury before the start of a product liability action”
    • Protect retailers who unknowingly sell a defective product
    • “Broad-based legislation that prohibits filing litigation in jurisdictions that have little or no relation to the defendant or the act giving rise to the cause of action”
    • Support a future workforce through better education today (more detail in education section)
  • Onorato
    • Keep property taxes low
    • Reduce Corporate Net Income Tax to 7.99%
    • Eliminate the cap on net operating losses for the Corporate Net Income Tax
    • Limit the amount electric rates can increase “over a 3-year phase-in period following the end of caps in any region of the state”
    • Improve infrastructure
    • “Upgrade the state’s “Investment Tracker” Internet database so that the public can easily access information about actual job creation, wages and benefits; industry sectors; and location… for all economic development investments”
    • Fund Small Business Development Centers
    • Foreclosure prevention and supporting the Pennsylvania Homeowners’ Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program
    • Historic preservation tax credit
    • “Expand the Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program, known as PennTAP, which hires experienced industry experts to work as business coaches with interested companies”
    • Increase venture capital in emerging markets
    • “Temporary tax rebate program for businesses that hire unemployed workers or new entrants to the labor force”
    • “Pennsylvania Community College Coordinating Board to strengthen the formal bonds of the Commonwealth’s 14 community colleges”
    • Support adult education initiatives like earning college credits through applied learning and ensuring access to college grants
    • State Earned Income Tax Credit

Education

  • Corbett
    • Raise the amount for the “Educational Improvement Tax Credit
    • Increase funding for community college
    • “Work with the Department of Education and guidance counselors from across the state to develop a program to actively recruit high school students into identified priority career paths”
    • Supports Adult Basic and Literacy Education
    • Supports school choice — “so that when a student pursues different learning opportunities, the funding moves along with them”
    • “Statewide charter school board [to] establish a uniform application, review and decision-making process for charter schools”
    • Support dual enrollment by having funding follow the individual
    • “Authorize 25 Innovation Schools statewide”
    • Evaluate teachers based on student achievement
    • Introduce a system for rating schools “based on student performance on state assessments and other objective measures of student achievement, including proficiency rates, learning gains, closing achievement gaps, graduation rates, accelerated coursework and college and workforce readiness.”
    • Broaden the list of prior offenses that prevents people from teaching
  • Onorato
    • Hold charter schools to stricter academic and financial standards
    • Supports school vouchers for low income families in failing schools.
    • Support the “Educational Improvement Tax Credit
    • Expand the “Pre-Kindergarten Counts” program to provide access to quality Pre-K education
    • Create a statewide “After School Coordinating Council” to “provide support for extracurricular activities and after- school programs”
    • “Promote the use of available state resources to fund courses like art, music and foreign languages”
    • Appoint an official responsible for ensuring schools meet safety standards
    • “Improving state laws on school safety reporting and ensuring that the information school districts submit is accurate”
    • Close achievement gap
    • Design teacher preparation programs
    • Prevent dropouts and re-engage those who have dropped out of school
    • Increase federal research grants
    • Provide capital funding for colleges
    • Increase Keystone Innovation Zone starter kits
    • Research and Development tax credit
    • Increase tuition grant money
    • Cut the size of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) board to 11 members to save money
    • Ban PHEAA employee bonuses
    • “Create affordable satellite community college campuses in rural and other under- served areas”
    • “Seek foundation and private funds and work with the Department of Revenue, tax preparation firms and other partners so that Pennsylvania becomes the first state in the nation where, while preserving personal information security, as much of the FAFSA as possible is automatically filled out for families that give their permission”

Energy and the Environment

  • Corbett
    • “Create an Infrastructure Improvement Tax Credit to enable eligible infrastructure businesses to obtain a match for investments spent on infrastructure investments”
    • Update infrastructure — support smart meters and smart grids
    • Promote coal-to-liquids (CTL) and gas-to-liquids (GTL) technologies
    • Biodiesel Blenders Tax Credit to support the biodiesel industry
    • Support nuclear energy
    • Develop the Marcellus Shale
    • “Create the Marcellus Shale Science Advisory Board within DEP to help identify the best available and practical water recycling and treatment technologies to protect ground and surface waters”
    • Support Clean Coal Technologies
    • Pass an Electricity Consumers’ Bill of Rights
    • “Executive Order directing DEP to create a “Permit Decision Guarantee Program” to ensure timely permit decisions based on clear deadlines for each permit issued by the agency”
    • “Executive Order to designate a senior advisor within the Governor’s office to serve as the state Energy Executive, who will be charged with coordinating an overall state energy policy, utilizing expertise within the many agencies of state government that impact energy policy.”
    • “Program to enlist retired DEP senior managers, who have vast experience and knowledge in implementing DEP’s programs, to voluntarily mentor future DEP managers through a management trainee program”
  • Onorato
    • Invest in green companies
    • Develop Marcellus Shale
    • Impact Tax on natural gas companies extract from the Marcellus Shale
    • Using the revenue from this tax to reverse cuts to the DEP and invest in communities around the Marcellus Shale
    • “Increase in the amount of renewable energy – including solar and wind power – that is required in the state’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards”
    • “Renew the Pennsylvania Sunshine Program so that companies and homeowners can continue to count on rebates to make solar projects feasible by assisting with the up-front costs”
    • Increase federal research grants
    • Launch “PA Saves” program that would allow people and businesses to “borrow to cover the up-front costs of Green upgrades, and pay back over a number of years through their municipal or utility bill”
    • New state buildings must meet green standards
    • Reduce energy use in state buildings 15%
    • Increase the use of green energy
    • Shift the state’s vehicle fleet to alternative energy fuels
    • “Expand the use of the Guaranteed Energy Savings Act program and of Energy Savings Contracts in order to encourage energy efficient upgrades in public buildings, and he will increase technical assistance so that local officials have the tools they need to make informed, cost-effective decisions”
    • Limit the amount electric rates can increase “over a 3-year phase-in period following the end of caps in any region of the state”
    • Growing Greener 3
    • Improve PA’s water infrastructure
    • “Increase the state’s reimbursement rate for schools that buy fresh local farm goods in their foodshed region as part of their breakfast and lunch programs.”

Transportation

  • Corbett
    • “Bipartisan transportation funding workgroup – building on the work of previous efforts to assess the fairness and efficacy of the current funding mechanisms and pursue aligning revenue sources to desired public goods”
    • Build and maintain infrastructure
    • Help alleviate transportation congestion
    • “Maximize user fees and ensure their fair collection”
    • “Funding strategy to replace the gas tax over time and pursue a feasibility study and a pilot of potential programs”
    • Deepen the Delaware River to aid in international trade
    • “Improve our intermodal system to carry goods and services to and from the ports”
  • Onorato
    • Invest in and maintain transportation infrastructure

Civil Rights

  • Corbett
    • Opposes adding sexual orientation to anti-discrimination laws
    • Supports a constitutional ban on gay marriage.
  • Onorato
    • “Add sexual orientation, gender identity, gender, ancestry and physical and mental disability to Pennsylvania’s hate crimes law”
    • Supports civil unions and domestic partnerships
    • Does not support a constitutional ban on gay marriage

Agriculture

  • Corbett (I cannot find Corbett’s stance on Agriculture)
  • Onorato
    • Protect farmers from property tax increases
    • Grants and loans for farmers to invest in equipment
    • Invest in agricultural research
    • “Create a single integrated Digital Health Department to give consumers access to food safety reports under the jurisdiction of the state as well as county and local governments”
    • “Increase funding for the State Food Purchase Program, which provides direct aid in purchasing food to 1,800 food banks, soup kitchens and supporting agencies”
    • “Restore the Neighborhood Assistance Tax Credit, which many farmers use to make contributions to food banks”
    • Increase reimbursement for schools that buy fresh local foods

Crime and Gun Rights

  • Corbett
    • Supports the death penalty
    • Does not support restrictive gun laws
  • Onorato
    • Preserve sportsmen’s gun rights, but be open to enacting “common sense” gun laws (see his stances in this section below)
    • Supports requiring people to report lost or stolen guns
    • Supports the death penalty
    • “Support continued use of the Pennsylvania Justice Network, or JNET, to securely share information among law enforcement stakeholders”
    • Require homes with minors to secure any firearms in the home
    • Public education to prevent “sexting”
    • “Add sexual orientation, gender identity, gender, ancestry and physical and mental disability to Pennsylvania’s hate crimes law”

Health Care

  • Corbett
    • Tort reform
    • Opposes recent Health Insurance reform
  • Onorato (I cannot find Oronato’s stance on Health Care)


Gerlach v. Trivedi for U.S. House of Representatives

Here are the two candidates for District 6 — Jim Gerlach and Manan Trivedi.

Update — WHYY’s Marty Moss-Coane interviewed Manan Trivedi on her radio show, “Radio Times.” You can listen to the interview at their website or find it in the iTunes store for free under “Radio Times.” On the show, Marty Moss-Coane said they are looking to set up a Gerlach interview in the coming weeks.

(Note — I’ve culled most of the information on the candidates’ stances from their own campaign sites (links: Gerlach, Trivedi) from OnTheIssues.com (links: Gerlach), and from ProjectVoteSmart.com (links: Gerlach, Trivedi).

Economy and Business

  • Gerlach
    • Opposed the Stimulus Package
    • Supported stimulus spending that involved funding transportation
    • Voted to regulate subprime mortgage industry
    • Voted to fund research and development of nanotechnology for commercialization
    • Small business tax relief
    • Lower state business taxes to stimulate growth
    • Voted to “make grants to states for the modernization, renovation, or repair of public schools, including early learning facilities and charter schools, to make them safe, healthy, high-performing, and technologically up-to-date.”
    • Voted to extend unemployment benefits during the recession
    • Opposed “Employee Free Choice Act,” which would end the need for a ‘secret ballot’ to vote on unionization after a majority of worker signatures have been collected
    • End offshore tax havens for business
  • Trivedi
    • “Support tax incentives that encourage expansion and new hiring”
    • Infrastructure spending (both physical, such as roads and bridges, and technological, such as broadband)
    • Tuition assistance programs
    • “Launch an effort to retrofit local schools to become more energy efficient by switching to clean energy sources (such as wind energy, solar power, biomass heaters”
    • Use this retrofitting plan to train vocational students and to reduce the amount of the budget spent on energy

Transportation

  • Gerlach
    • Supported stimulus spending that involved funding transportation
    • Member of House Committees dealing with transportation
  • Trivedi
    • Infrastructure spending

Health Care

  • Gerlach
    • Opposed recent Health Insurance reform
    • Tort reform
    • Voted to regulate tobacco as a drug
    • Voted to expand Children’s Health Insurance program
  • Trivedi
    • Supported a public option
    • Comparative Effectiveness Research
    • Expand health information technology to reduce costs and improve quality
    • Realign incentives to reward quality, not quantity, of care
    • Promote primary care
    • Support policies that make “all neighborhoods healthier—with walking paths, open spaces, and access to healthy groceries”

Immigration

  • Gerlach
    • Opposes amnesty for illegal immigrants in America
    • Stronger border control
  • Trivedi
    • Opposes Arizona immigration law
    • “He supports immigration reform that creates a path to citizenship, where people have to get in the back of the line and fulfill the same requirements that his father had to fulfill.”

Education

  • Gerlach
    • Voted to “make grants to states for the modernization, renovation, or repair of public schools, including early learning facilities and charter schools, to make them safe, healthy, high-performing, and technologically up-to-date.”
  • Trivedi
    • Invest in early learning
    • Reform “No Child Left Behind”
    • Change incentives to stop teachers from “teaching to the test”
    • National standards
    • Supports technical training in the clean energy industry

Energy and the Environment

  • Gerlach
    • Opposes Cap and Trade
    • Supports offshore drilling
    • Voted for “clean coal technology and developing new alternative energy through wind, solar and bio-fuels”
    • Sponsored a bill to “make federal funds available to municipalities around the country to purchase conservation easements”
    • Supports public transportation
  • Trivedi
    • Fund research and development of green energy technology
    • Support public transportation
    • “Modernization of the aging U.S. power infrastructure with the development of smart grid and meter systems”

National Security

  • Gerlach
    • Supported Patriot Act
    • Opposed closing Guantanamo Bay
    • “Co-sponsored legislation to prevent terrorists from being imprisoned on US soil”
    • Supported War in Iraq
    • Supports War in Afghanistan
    • Sanctions on Iran
  • Trivedi
    • Draw down forces in Iraq
    • Two-state solution in Israel
    • “Plan for a more reasonable deployment cycle, increase educational and healthcare benefits for the active duty and veteran community, and raise compensation for the junior enlisted, if not all our soldiers and sailors”
    • Supports War in Afghanistan

Abortion

  • Gerlach
    • Pro-life
    • Voted for stem cell research
    • Voted for “restricting interstate transport of minors to get abortions”
  • Trivedi
    • Pro-choice
    • Ensure access to contraception


Sestak vs. Toomey for PA Senator

Now that the primaries are behind us, the brawl for the Pennsylvania Senate seat is heating up. This blog post will be one in a series of posts I hope to write in which I lay out the stances of various candidates that will be on the ballots this year.

I hope that reading about those issues that matter to you will get you to the ballot box, and that this blog has helped you make an informed decision.

Update — WHYY’s Marty Moss-Coane interviewed with each of these candidates on her radio show, “Radio Times.” Follow the links below to listen, or find them for free in the iTunes store under “Radio Times”:

(Note — I’ve culled most of the information on the candidates’ stances from their own campaign sites (links: Toomey, Sestak), from OnTheIssues.com (links: Toomey, Sestak), and from ProjectVoteSmart.com (links: Toomey, Sestak). )

Economy and Business

  • Toomey
    • Tax cuts (for both individuals and businesses) and deregulation to spur economic growth
    • Opposes the Jobs Bill
    • Opposed the Stimulus Package
    • Make the Bush tax cuts permanent
    • Decrease government spending
    • Voted to end offshore tax havens
  • Sestak
    • Supported the Stimulus Package to stabilize the economy
    • Tax cuts for the middle class
    • Allow Bush tax cuts to expire
    • Federal investment in new industries
    • Supported the TARP Program (bailouts) to stabilize the financial sector
    • Close tax loopholes
    • Supported “Employee Free Choice Act,” which would end the need for a ‘secret ballot’ to vote on unionization after a majority of worker signatures have been collected
    • Increase the minimum wage
    • Discretionary spending caps
    • Voted to extend unemployment benefits during the recession
    • Invest in small business
    • Supported HOPE for Homeowners to help people refinance their mortgages
    • Supported government purchase of ‘toxic assets’ to help keep credit flowing
    • Supported Credit Card Holders’ Bill of Rights
    • Supports Pay-As-You-Go, which requires increases in spending to be accounted for

Health Care

  • Toomey
    • Opposes the recent Health Insurance reform
    • “Giving individuals who buy their own health insurance the same tax benefits that employers enjoy when they buy health insurance for their employees”
    • Allow health insurance companies to compete across state lines
    • Tort reform
    • “Allow small businesses and groups to join together to form association health plans to lower the cost of providing health care”
    • “Encourage a market for renewable health plans to help people with preexisting conditions keep their health insurance”
    • Increase awareness of health care cost
    • Voted to help establish tax-exempt Medical Savings Accounts
  • Sestak
    • Supported the recent Health Insurance reform
    • Opposes single-payer, but supported public option
    • Stop insurers from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions
    • Health Insurance Exchanges
    • Support of stimulus package that provided funding for states so they could avoid cutting Medicare/Medicaid.
    • Invest in preventive care
    • Voted to regulate tobacco as a drug
    • Voted to expand the Children’s Health Insurance Program

Immigration

  • Toomey
    • Opposes amnesty for illegal immigrants in America
    • Secure America’s borders
  • Sestak (I cannot find Sestak’s position on this issue)

Energy and the Environment

  • Toomey
    • Offshore drilling for oil
    • Nuclear power
    • Utilize the Marcellus Shale
    • Opposes Cap and Trade
  • Sestak
    • Favors alternative energy sources
    • Supports Cap and Trade
    • “Reduce the human impact on climate change”
    • Reduce carbon emissions
    • Tax credits for renewable energy
    • Fund research and development of alternative energy
    • “Increase investment in water infrastructure development.”

National Security

  • Toomey
    • Supports SDI (“Star Wars”)
    • Supports War in Afghanistan
    • Supports War in Iraq
    • Sanctions on Iran
  • Sestak
    • Improve care for returning soldiers
    • Supported employing additional troops to Afghanistan
    • Voted to provide “additional equipment to protect our troops in harm’s way”
    • Ensure civil liberties while providing for National Security
    • Reassess the Patriot Act
    • Support G.I. Bill
    • “Economic instability around the world [is] the primary danger to our nation’s security”
    • Close Guantanamo Bay
    • Treat veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome
    • Withdraw from Iraq
    • Restore habeas corpus for detainees

Abortion

  • Toomey
    • Pro-life
    • Encourage adoption over abortion
    • Opposes using tax dollars on abortion
  • Sestak
    • Pro-choice
    • Voted to support stem cell research
    • Ensure access to contraception

Education

  • Toomey
    • Supports charter schools
  • Sestak
    • Increase Pell Grants
    • Support early education
    • Increase funding for Head Start
    • “Reauthorize the Teach For America program, which recruits and trains recent college graduates seeking to enter into the teaching profession.”
    • “Establish tuition repayment program for individuals with degrees in Mathematics and Science who commit to serve as a teacher.”

Gay and Lesbian

  • Toomey
    • Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage
    • Banning gay and lesbian people from adopting children in Washington, D.C.
  • Sestak
    • Supports civil unions
    • Provide “federal civilian LGBT employees with the same partnership benefits that are currently offered to all spouses of federal employees”
    • Repeal the “Defense of Marriage Act”
    • End discrimination in the workplace
    • End discrimination in the military

Gun Rights

  • Toomey
    • Few limitations on gun rights
  • Sestak
    • Regulations on gun ownership
    • Federal ban on assault weapons

Internet

  • Toomey (I cannot find Toomey’s position on this issue)
  • Sestak