Governor’s Race: A Democratic Primary Primer

by Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC

Pennsylvania’s primary election will be held on Tuesday, May 20. Gov. Tom Corbett is running unopposed on the Republican ticket. Four Democrats are vying for the nomination to challenge the incumbent governor this fall. Here is a quick rundown of each of the candidates and some of their key positions on energy, the economy, health care and the environment. For more information about each of the candidates, visit their websites listed below.

Rob McCord (D)

Rob McCord hails from Bryn Mawr, Montgomery County and is currently the commonwealth’s elected State Treasurer. Before becoming treasurer, he served as co-founder and managing director of Pennsylvania Early Stage Partners, a family of three venture funds that invested in early-stage life-science and information technology firms. He also co-founded the Eastern Technology Fund, a provider of funding that served more than 800 companies. His mother was a public school teacher. McCord and his family live less than a mile from the home he grew up in.

On the economy/jobs:

  • invest in Pennsylvania’s cities to make them safe centers of commerce, culture and recreation ;
  • end special tax breaks for businesses that have led to deficits; and
  • leverage Pennsylvania’s leadership in biomedical research to attract talent, investment capital and innovative start-ups.

On education:

  • use $1.3 billion of his proposed drillers’ tax to invest in education: $220 million in voluntary, early learning and $1.1 billion in K-12 programs;
  • help districts restore full-day kindergarten programs; and
    • promote STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) curricula.

On health care:

  • expand Medicaid to keep Pennsylvanians’ health care dollars in Pennsylvania;
  • promote health care exchanges with a focus on young, healthy consumers; and
  • take advantage of all of the benefits provided by the ACA and make sure it meets the needs of Pennsylvania’s working families.

On energy and the environment:

  • proposes a 10 percent tax on natural gas production; would maintain funding to communities that host the drilling and remaining revenue would be put toward education and environmental protection;
  • supports the current moratoriums on new oil and gas leasing in state parks and forests and on hydraulic fracturing in the Delaware River Basin; and
  • supports investment in green infrastructure and sustainable development.

Katie McGinty (D)

Katie McGinty served as secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection under former governor Ed Rendell. She also served as deputy assistant and then as chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality under Bill Clinton.  Currently, she is operating partner of Element Partners, a clean technology private equity firm. She is the ninth of 10 children, all born and raised in northeast Philadelphia. Her father was a Philadelphia police officer, and her mother worked as a restaurant hostess. She and her family have lived in Central Pennsylvania for nine years.

On the economy/jobs:

  • calls for raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.00 per hour; and
  • has a jobs plan to focused on energy policies and developing clean renewable energy.

On education:

  • restore $1 billion to the education budget;
  • expand support for pre-K programs, including Head Start, and provide funding to support full-day Kindergarten programs in every school district; and
  • support incentives for school districts to augment advanced placement courses and re-establish the Governor’s Academies for Gifted and Talented Students.

On health care:

  • expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act; and
  • create a healthcare exchange specific to Pennsylvania.

On the environment:

  • proposes a 4.5 percent severance tax on natural gas production; would maintain funding to communities that host the drilling and spend the remaining revenue on education;
  • supports the current moratorium on new oil and gas leasing in state parks and forests; open to future drilling in the Delaware River Basin as long as tighter environmental regulations are enforced and Pennsylvania hires more inspectors; and
  • considers renewable energy technology and products made with shale gas as a path to more manufacturing jobs and other economic development.

Allyson Schwartz (D)

Allyson Schwartz is currently the only female member of the Pennsylvania Congressional delegation. She was first elected to serve the 13th district in 2004.  Prior to that, she served as a member of the Pennsylvania Senate. She is the daughter of a first generation Holocaust survivor and a Korean War veteran.  She and her family live in Jenkintown, Montgomery County.

On the economy/jobs:

  • establish a $30 million capitalized loan pool to provide manufacturers and other businesses with access to growth capital;
  • support expanding the job creation tax credit and the research and development tax credit and would increase support for Ben Franklin Technology Partners and for the three Life Science Greenhouses; and
  • support workforce development with programs to encourage apprenticeships, industry partnerships, career and technology education, as well as consolidate job-training programs.

On education:

  • would use a new 5-percent severance tax on natural gas production to finance increased funding for public education and early education;
  • provide universal access to voluntary prekindergarten to all 4-year-olds within a decade and establish full-day kindergarten programs in every school district;
  • commit state to STEM curriculum (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

On health care:

  • supports expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act; and
  • supports creating a healthcare exchange specific to Pennsylvania

On the environment:

  • proposes a 5 percent tax on natural gas production on top of the current impact fee; those tax revenues would be spent on education, transportation and infrastructure projects;
  • supports the current moratoriums on new oil and gas leasing in state parks and forests as well as on hydraulic fracturing in the Delaware River Basin; and
  • has a plan proposing Pennsylvania get 30 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030.

Tom Wolf (D)

Tom Wolf is chairman and CEO of the Wolf Organization, Inc., a family-owned business that is the nation’s leading supplier of kitchen cabinets and a provider of specialty building products. He began working in the family business as a forklift operator and warehouse worker. He sold the business in 2006 to serve as former governor Ed Rendell’s Secretary of Revenue. In 2009, he bought the business back when it was failing and returned it to health. Wolf lives in York County in the same house he was brought home to from the hospital.

On the economy/jobs:

  • supports investments in manufacturing including a Made In Pennsylvania “cash-back” jobs creation program that would reward manufacturing companies that create jobs;
  • would utilize grant programs to encourage partnerships between colleges and universities and manufacturers to move theoretical ideas to the market place; and
  • create a Technical Education Applied to Manufacturing (T.E.A.M.) program to improve vocational education programs in all high schools.

On education:

  • increase state’s share of education funding, with the goal of covering 50 percent of the costs;
  • institute an education funding formula tied to district size, poverty levels, local tax efforts and student makeup; and
  • reform charter school system to hold all charter schools to the same accountability and standards as public schools.

On health care:

  • supports expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act;
  • would advocate for legislation that sets safe nurse to patient ratios;
  • increase funding to expand the number of primary care physicians who can participate in the state’s debt relief program for medical professionals and increase the number of residency slots for primary care doctors; and
  • incentivize medical care providers to adopt the patient-centered medical home model of care.

On the environment:

  • proposes a 5 percent severance tax on natural gas production; would maintain funding to the communities that host the drilling and spend the remaining revenue on environmental protection, renewable energy sources, and education;
  • supports the current moratoriums on new oil and gas leasing in state parks and forests and on hydraulic fracturing in the Delaware River Basin; and
  • supports more state-level regulations to ensure that the interests of landowners who have leased their mineral rights to oil and gas companies are protected.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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