Tom Wolf on education, uncut: Vote trading, increasing investment, and disbanding the SRC

 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf speaks to NewsWorks Tonight host Dave Heller at WHYY studios in Philadelphia, Pa. (Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY)

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf speaks to NewsWorks Tonight host Dave Heller at WHYY studios in Philadelphia, Pa. (Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY)

Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf came to WHYY studios Friday to answer an array of questions from a mix of beat reporters during an hour long visit.

Wolf’s visit came exactly one week after Gov. Tom Corbett came to WHYY. Both fielded queries on education, tax policy, energy and economic development.

As I did with my conversation with Corbett last week, here I’m archiving my full, unedited conversation with Wolf on education, a topic that continues to dominate the minds of voters this election season.

Segments of both the Wolf and Corbett interviews were used in the education comparison feature we published Tuesday. Additional portions may be selected for use in WHYY’s hour-long election special hosted by Dave Davies, which is slated to air October 31.

Click play above to listen to the full interview. A few excerpts are below:

On the political wheeling-and-dealing that will be needed to get a 5 percent extraction tax on natural gas drilling, with most proceeds going to schools, through the likely still Republican-controlled legislature:

“I’m not sure what I’m going to have to trade. I’m going to have to have a conversation, but I’m hoping that people will be persuaded by the idea that we actually have to invest in education.”

On whether the Pennsylvania legislature would need to approve his plan accept the federal Medicaid expansion and restructure the way charter schools are funded, Wolf said:

“I’m not sure if those two do or not.”

(Short answer is that Wolf could have the state accept the basic federal Medicaid expansion by executive authority, but depending on exactly how he’d like to tweak the system, some provisions would require legislative approval. Adjusting how charter schools are funded would definitely need a legislative blessing.)

On funding the state employee pension obligation:

“I’m willing to compromise on the form; I’m not willing to compromise on kicking that can down the road.”

On his desire to disband the Philadelphia School Reform Commission:

“I think local control is better. My proposal is for an elected school board because that’s what every other school district in Pennsylvania has.”

“Many people feel that the SRC, and non-local control, is the price we have to pay–Philadelphians have to pay–to get the funds from Harrisburg. I think that’s a problem.”

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