A look at where the two candidates for Pennsylvania governor — Republican Gov. Tom Corbett and Democratic nominee Tom Wolf — stand on some key issues:
Corbett opposes abortion rights. Wolf supports abortion rights. As governor, Corbett signed legislation opposed by abortion rights advocates to toughen building safety and staffing standards for abortion clinics and to prohibit private insurance companies from offering abortion coverage in the marketplace created under the 2010 federal health care law.
Corbett won approval from the federal government for elements of his “Healthy PA” plan that subsidizes private insurance coverage using Medicaid expansion dollars available to states under the 2010 federal health care law. He is seeking federal approval to scale back benefits for healthier adults in the traditional Medicaid program.
Wolf would scrap elements of “Healthy PA” in favor of a traditional Medicaid expansion. In particular, he opposes the premium structure that would go into effect in 2016 for certain new Medicaid enrollees and the reduction of benefits being sought by Corbett for healthier adults in the traditional Medicaid program.
Corbett does not promise more funding for public schools, and says it is more important to invest education dollars wisely. Corbett sought unsuccessfully to remove the power to authorize charter schools from local school boards to a proposed statewide commission and signed legislation doubling the available tax credits to help public school students pay for private school tuition.
Wolf would increase spending on public schools by $1 billion and seek to increase the state’s share of public school spending to 50 percent of the overall cost from the current level of about 33 percent. Wolf would convene a commission to develop funding formulas for charter schools and cyber charters.
Corbett opposes increasing Pennsylvania’s minimum wage, preferring to let the federal government to set the amount.
Wolf supports increasing Pennsylvania’s minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, set by federal law, to $10.10 over a two-year period and indexing it to inflation.
Corbett supports legislation to scale back or eliminate the ability of public-sector labor unions to collect member dues or political contributions through paycheck deductions. He also supports legislation to prohibit requirements that employees join a union or pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment in a union-represented place of employment. Wolf opposes both proposals.
Corbett sought unsuccessfully to switch all future new employees to a 401(k)-style plan, reduce benefits for future new employees and reduce future benefits for current employees. He opposes a taxpayer-backed bond to pay down pension debt.
Wolf would maintain a defined benefit pension program for public employees and oppose switching to a 401(k)-style plan. He opposes further delaying the state’s annual pension obligation payments and would consider supporting a taxpayer-backed bond to pay down pension debt.
Corbett says he understands climate change is happening and that scientific literature points to a human role in it. But he maintains there is a scientific debate over the immediate impact of climate change on human health and the environment. Corbett opposes the Environmental Protection Agency standards to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants, and instead supports helping coal-fired power plant owners improve pollution control. As governor, Corbett has not set or promised to set emission-reduction targets for greenhouse gases.
Wolf says he believes global warming is already affecting human health and the environment and promises his administration would set “meaningful” emission-reduction targets for greenhouse gases. Wolf has qualified his support for the Environmental Protection Agency standards, saying the new rules must be applied fairly, allow for adjustments and create economic opportunities.
NATURAL GAS POLICY
Both Corbett and Wolf oppose a broad moratorium on natural gas drilling and oppose the leasing of more state parks and state forest for drilling. As governor, Corbett authorized leasing of gas rights beneath state park and forest land, with the condition that drilling occur on adjacent, privately owned lands or from areas already leased for drilling in the state forests. Corbett opposes a moratorium on drilling in the Delaware River Basin, while Wolf supports it.
Corbett signed legislation to reduce local governments’ zoning authority over drilling activity (it was struck down by Pennsylvania courts). Wolf opposes reducing local authority.
Wolf supports imposing a 5 percent severance tax on natural gas extraction. Corbett opposes additional taxes on the industry.
Both Corbett and Wolf would support legislation to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in matters of housing, employment and public accommodation. Corbett opposes the recognition of same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania, but allowed it to become law by ending its fight in federal court, saying he did not think the state could prevail on an appeal. Wolf supports recognition of same-sex marriage.
Corbett opposes legislation to expand background checks to more gun purchases, ban sales of assault weapons, require that gun owners report lost or stolen guns and grant municipalities the ability to enact gun control ordinances. As governor, Corbett signed legislation to expand the rights of someone with a gun to protect their self with deadly force.
Wolf would sign legislation to expand background checks, ban assault weapon sales, require reporting of lost and stolen guns and allow municipal gun control ordinances.
Corbett supports dissolving the state’s wholesale and retail control of wine and liquor sales in favor of a system of private licensing. Wolf opposes such a change, and instead would liberalize existing laws to encourage a more profitable state-store system.
Corbett says he will work to oppose tax increases as much as possible. He supports legislation to increase sales or income taxes to offset reductions to school property taxes. As governor, he signed legislation to increase taxes on wholesale vehicle fuel and reduce a variety of business taxes. He also unsuccessfully proposed the beginning of a long-term reduction of the corporate net income tax from the current 9.99 percent to 6.99 percent.
Wolf supports increasing income taxes to offset reductions to school property taxes. He would seek to change Pennsylvania’s personal income tax law to shift a bigger burden to higher earners, but he has not given full details. He would seek to close the “Delaware loophole” through a change in law called combined reporting. He would seek to lower the corporate net income tax rate, although he has not given full details.
Corbett has proposed a limited medical marijuana plan including treatment of seizure-prone children with a marijuana oil extract by specialists at one of four hospitals in Pennsylvania as a pilot program that would be studied for medical effectiveness. He opposes decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana or legalizing the sale of marijuana for recreational use.
Wolf would sign legislation to legalize marijuana for broader medicinal purposes. He supports decriminalizing possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, but wants to study the experience of states where it is legal before deciding whether to support legalizing the sale of marijuana for recreational use.
Corbett supports the death penalty and has not called for a moratorium. As governor, Corbett has signed 40 death warrants. Wolf supports a moratorium on the death penalty and would not sign death warrants until concerns raised by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and the American Bar Association have been addressed.