Pennsylvania's constitution requires our state legislature to provide a "thorough & efficient" system of education. Many argue that PA is not meeting its constitutional responsibility. I believe our schools are incredibly underfunded and teachers are underpaid. Teachers should never have to spend money out of their pockets for essential supplies. How we assess teaching and evaluate schools performance is in desperate need of progressive reform to separate ourselves from one size fits all standardized assessments. Money & resources are essential to provide our students, teachers, counselors, materials, facilities with the necessary tools for education. Many vulnerable children are disproportionately impacted by PA's inequitable school funding system.
With Pennsylvania's 19,000 miles of impaired streams, 5,500 of them being from abandoned coal mines, state environmental agencies starved of funds, our ranking of third worst air quality in the United States- our environmental woes are evident. Since 1971 Pennsylvania's constitution has guaranteed that people have a right to clean air, pure water & preservation of the natural, scenic & historic esthetic values of the environment .Despite that politicians have failed to enact policy to uphold our rights. Our overall human health is directly linked to the state of our environment. We need to increase funding to our state agencies, enact policy reform, and remediate our extensive environmental issues .Most importantly we must prioritize conversion to renewable energy sources to combat the effects of climate change to ensure the longevity of future generations to come. Our natural resources belong solely to the people of the commonwealth and it is time for the gas industry to pay the extraction tax !
From 1991 to 2015 , Pennsylvania's economy ranked 45th in job growth, while the size and scope of the state government grew dramatically according to Commonwealth foundation. First & foremost we must work to restrain government spending, & lower taxes to put more money into working class citizens pockets. My plan is to create more living wage jobs by fostering a state of economic growth though increasing manufacturing, agriculture, green energy , & marijuana industry related jobs.. Improving the quality of education goes hand in hand with improving the overall state of our economy. We need to once again encourage graduates to pursue skilled trades & offer incentives to stimulate the availability of skilled employees to companies throughout the commonwealth. Skilled workers are the key to our economic sustainability and longevity in Pennsylvania. Vocational training and exposure needs to return to high schools and we need to step away from the illusion that EVERYONE must attend a 4-year University to be successful.
Our energy policy today shapes our health , economy and environment of tomorrow. I envision a state that remediates its environmental harm , primarily through the integration of a modernized power grid. This will happen when Pennsylvania gets serious about alternative sources of energy.. We need to invest in embeddable solar energy, wind, geothermal, hydrogen gas power, algae & other biofuels, nuclear waste power, fusion power and other emerging sources of green, sustainable energy. The future is here and green energy is the ticket to rapidly growing Pennsylvania's economy as well as crafting an environmentally sustainable future for tomorrow. Our success in the future will be dominated by our ability to innovate, not by the fossil fuel technology which is outdated and damaging our biosphere.
MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION & REGULATION
The war on marijuana is a failure and continues to cost Pennsylvania taxpayers millions annually and greatly reduces the amount of labor available in our economy. Many whom enter the criminal justice system are ineligible or unable to obtain employment. Heroin and other dangerous drugs are available in abundance within our communities & our law enforcement agencies are stretched thin. Research indicates legal marijuana states have significantly lower opioid addiction and abuse rates, followed by evidence that juvenile marijuana usage declines in legal states as well. Marijuana is not a gateway drug according to a 12-year University of Pittsburgh study. A 2010 study released by non-profit RAND Corp., indicates stricter drug policies might actually lead to an increase in overall crime rates. Regulated sale of marijuana would end associated black market driven violence. Pennsylvania has the potential to stop filling our prisons with non-violent drug offenders and reap the upwards of 600 million annually in tax revenue.
Excessive taxation is not fundamental to our country's founding principles. I believe through responsible budgeting and taxation with representation we can bring logical reform to Harrisburg. I will fight for & support any legislation which eliminates or offers property tax relief. I will counter any legislation which eliminates one tax only to raise another. I will fight for Lancaster Counties family owned farms to reduce their tax burden in comparison to corporate agricultural farms.
I believe strongly in imposing an “impact fee” on natural gas wells drilled into Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale. Pennsylvania's constitution states that the commonwealth's natural resources belong exclusively to the citizens and future generations. When we allow corporations into our state to extract our energy and ship it to other states - we are not honoring our law. We can do this & still foster a state conducive to pro-business growth, in order to attract businesses to migrate & thrive in Pennsylvania, while creating more living wage jobs for our citizens.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE & OPIOID EPIDEMIC
Our outdated justice systems keeps non-violent drug offenders in a perpetual state of incarceration. It is the leading cause of overflowing prisons, and ineffective court systems that cannot handle the influx. Our drug laws must be updated to provide individuals with treatment vs hard justice. Our prisons are ineffective in curbing crime. We must prioritize rehabilitation in order to end this vicious cycle.
On average, 13 Pennsylvanians die daily from drug-related overdoses. Nearly four times as many Pennsylvanians died due to causes related to drug overdoses as died in traffic accidents. Pennsylvania’s overdose death rate is more than twice the national average.
Fentanyl, heroin, and related opioids continued to be frequently identified drugs in post-mortem toxicology tests. Our local communities within Lancaster County are still being hit hard by the opioid epidemic. In an effort to curb the crime associated with widespread opioid use and the public health crisis- we must choose to prioritize rehabilitation over criminal charges.Furthermore, I support increasing Pennsylvania's minimum wage from the unlivable amount $7.25 per hour. Doing this we have the ability to prevent thousands of crimes from ever occurring. The concept is straightforward. Strong evidence displays a correlation in criminal behavior is negatively related to wages. An increase in minimum wage would raise the opportunity cost of low-paid workers actively engaging in crime.
FIREARMS, GUN VIOLENCE & REFORM
The second amendment is woven into the constitution & the fabric of our society. The inherent rights of all law abiding citizens to protect themselves, their families and their property shall not be infringed upon. That being said I will oppose any legislation which seeks to violate the rights of law abiding citizens. Firearms are a way of life for many within Lancaster County & all over the commonwealth. I do not support banning commonly used semi-automatic firearms ,magazine restrictions or other similar proposals. What I do support is compromising in a bi-partisan fashion to ensure the safety of our children in school & throughout our state. We need to pass common sense gun reform that would allocate resources, & work more effectively to keep firearms out of the hands of violent & mentally ill. We must all take responsibility for our priority to educate future generations about firearm safety and ensure that we foster a reduction in firearm related crimes and mass shootings to ensure all citizens of Pennsylvania are safe.