On the issues
PUBLIC EDUCATION FUNDING
Unfortunately, my campaign has been the focus of the GOP this year in their hopes to flip this seat. They have spent over $1 million dollars spreading lies and misinformation. To set the record straight on the Republican attack on my strong public education record: I voted in favor of the budget (SB1100) but voted against the School Code (HB1642) because it is another blatant attempt to undermine and privatize public education in Pennsylvania by the Republican majority. The School Code dramatically increases the amount of money diverted from state funds to private schools. The budget does include a $1.8 billion increase in education funding– but without any regulation or reform, charter schools will continue to drain the budgets of our public schools. The budget (which I voted IN FAVOR OF) includes a $525 million increase in Basic Education funding through the Fair Funding Formula; a $225 million increase in Level Up funding to provide targeted support to the 100 most in-need school districts; a $100 million increase in Special Education; and a $79 million increase for Pre-K Counts and Head Start programs. This all sounds like a win for education – and surely, some of our schools in SD44 – after 30 years of underfunding – are finally getting an increase but unfortunately, the provisions of this budget via the school code will ensure that our public schools will still struggle, and taxpayers will continue to foot the bill in property tax increases.
Democrats only got about half of the $7+ billion that Gov. Wolf asked for to fully fund our public schools, and as a trade-off the Republicans stripped away the charter school regulations, which cost taxpayers about 30% of the education funding annually. That money goes to fund things like advertising that charter schools can use to attract more students, without being held accountable to the same performance standards that public schools are. Second, the current school code allows charter schools to claim the highest level of funding per every special education student, regardless of what level of resources they truly need. Public schools have to tier special education students depending on need (the higher the tier the more money they allocate for the student), but charter schools can bill public schools for the top tier regardless of the need.
It is also important to note that a lot of the money funding my opponent (who works at a for-profit cyber charter school and was fired twice as a special education teacher for failing to write IEPs and giving students medication without parental consent) is being funneled by right-wing billionaire, Jeffrey Yass, who (shockingly) has deep financial ties to the for-profit charter school industry. The goal for Yass and his cronies is to privatize public education in Pennsylvania so that they benefit while the rest of us have our property taxes jacked up.
Protecting our constitutional right to clean water, air, and land
Property Tax Relief
Hardworking people and families have been burdened by outrageous property taxes, due to poor leadership and broken promises by the Republican Majority in Harrisburg. This is something that hits very close to home for me, since my grandmother was forced to sell her home in Western PA because she could no longer afford to pay the property tax on her home that she owned for over 40 years. I support initiatives such as rebate programs to decrease the burden of property taxes, especially amongst Seniors, so that they do not have to sell their homes and can retire with dignity and financial security. I will fight to make sure that wealthy corporations and the oil and gas industry pay their fair share and put an end to skyrocketing property taxes.
Quality & Affordable Healthcare For All
Adequate and affordable healthcare for families is not a privilege that state legislators should use as a bargaining chip. It is a public resource that should be provided to all working families. I support state-sponsored healthcare for all, so that every Pennsylvanian has access to affordable and quality healthcare services.
We must choose to invest in our future by rejuvenating the Pennsylvania public school system and provide educators the resources necessary to succeed. This includes fair funding for our public schools, so that every child has an opportunity to develop and succeed, without relying on a rigged property tax system. My goal is to ensure this becomes the standard without overtaxing hardworking Pennsylvanians, particularly those within the 44th District.
Rejuvenating Our Public School System
For too long Harrisburg has been mired in bureaucracy and special interests, resulting in imbalance and inefficiency. Harrisburg is run by a state legislature controlled by career politicians that answer only to special interests. We need to put Harrisburg back to work, so that we can put forth positive and impactful legislation that will benefit all Pennsylvanians.
No More Corporate Handouts: I introduced legislation to stop powerful entities – like utility companies and energy providers – from price gouging, and exploiting workers and consumers.
The Pennsylvania Small Business and Consumer Protection Act will help to rebalance the current economy, which only benefits the rich and powerful. For decades, large companies have purchased smaller businesses, creating concentrated power in sectors of our economy such as utilities and energy, internet and phone, and health care and insurance. This leaves consumers with fewer options for everything—the things they buy, the services they use, and the places they work. Once big businesses own the market, they’re free to set high prices and exploit workers.
The Stop Price Gouging Act will strengthen the Attorney General’s ability to prosecute individuals and businesses that collude to artificially and unfairly raise prices on goods bought or sold in Pennsylvania.
Standing Up For Small Businesses and Consumers
Veterans and Seniors
I will continue to advance and protect the interests of our veterans and seniors, by fighting for guaranteed quality healthcare, lower prescription drug costs, mental health services, and affordable housing.
I have taken on the tough fights in Harrisburg to combat the industries that are raking in record profits for their shareholders, gouging us at the pump, and sticking taxpayers with the bill to clean up their mess. For three decades the majority party in Harrisburg has done little to nothing to protect our constitutional right to clean air and pure water in Pennsylvania. Together, we can hold corporate polluters responsible and transition towards a green economy that will create family-sustaining jobs, make our communities safer, reduce costs, and help us achieve energy independence.