Enter Tom Wolf. The Jeep-loving Democratic challenger from York has taken the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race, according to television networks that projected the win just moments after polls closed.
Here’s where he stands on the issues facing millennials:
Most of Tom Wolf’s plans to bring jobs to Pennsylvania revolve around the creation of jobs in the manufacturing sector. Among his plans is the idea that connecting the manufacturing businesses with Pa.’s 130 colleges will reap benefits for both sides — young people can get jobs out of school, and the state’s largest companies can grow their businesses with fresh talent.
He’s also hoping to establish Technical Education Applied to Manufacturing (or T.E.A.M.) to be dispatched to high schools across the state to improve vocational education programs.
Despite his proposed efforts, Wolf was met with some opposition by Big Labor during the Democratic primary, as his massive kitchen and bath cabinetry business employs a non-union labor force. His campaign spokespeople have said that Wolf offers his employees fair living wages and strong benefits.
Tom Wolf says he’s opposed to privatizing the state’s sales of wine and liquor. He told the York Daily Record in April that the distribution of wine and liquor in Pennsylvania can be improved, but that privatization is not the means to his ideal end. Modernization does not equal privatization, he says. Whatever that means.
In his message to YDR, Wolf also hit on the time he spent as the Secretary of Revenue and how he strengthened the Pennsylvania Lottery system without actually privatizing it. He’s reiterated on a consistent basis that as governor, he would block efforts to privatize the system that he claims provides many “good-paying, middle-class jobs.”
Wolf’s opinions on medical marijuana fall largely in line with what about 80 percent of Pennsylvanians think — he’s cool with it. In recent years there’s been a statewide push for medical marijuana bills to pass through the state legislature, especially as science points more and more to cannabis as a top therapy for children who suffer from seizures.
“What is motivating me is people I know with children with diseases that could be treated with medical marijuana. My goal is to create a system where they don’t feel like to go to another state to make their child whole,” Wolf told the Patriot-News in March.
In addition to the medical stuff, Wolf also supports decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana. This policy would fall in line with what Philadelphia implemented on its own — without state support. City Hall passed a pot bill that essentially made it a little less illegal to have less than an ounce of weed on you.
That bill, which would implement $25 fines for having a small amount of pot, went into effect on October 20. (The fine quadruples to $100 to toke up in public, people.)
In the eyes of some analysts, Wolf’s failed to lay out a specific plan to reform the state’s ailing public education system. While he had plenty to say about Corbett’s well-known slashing of funding to public schools, he said during debates only that he’s in favor of a fair funding formula for education.
Wolf’s Fair Funding Formula as laid out on his website insists that the state — which currently provides an average of 32 percent of schools’ funding — should aim to provide 50 percent, therefore alleviating property tax-payers of picking up the burden.
According to his campaign, that additional funding will be based on district size, local poverty levels, student makeup and tax efforts already in place by local officials.
Wolf has been on record saying he believes the state needs to do more to protect Philadelphia schools from closure, calling Corbett’s cigarette tax and additional funding solutions “a Band-Aid.” Wolf’s also said he’s in favor of abolishing the Philadelphia School Reform Commission — which recently unilaterally cancelled teachers’ contracts — in favor of an elected, more traditional school board.
When it comes to higher education, Wolf hopes to implement several programs for veterans and underserved communities by providing additional financial support and instituting application fee waivers for high school students with a GPA over 3.75. He has not committed to reviving any of the millions of dollars that state schools lost in aid under the Corbett administration.
Tom Wolf’s stances on reproductive rights stand largely along party lines and he’s pledged in the past that he’ll stand by “a woman’s right to choose.” However, his campaign website offers little to no concrete plans to address issues facing women.
With regard to pay gaps, Wolf’s campaign notes that he’ll “strengthen our existing equal pay law and hold employers accountable for gender discrimination,” but has offered little explanation on how he’ll go about doing so.
Despite the lack of concrete policy, Wolf’s been widely supported by women’s groups across the state and was endorsed by Planned Parenthood in September. He’s also taken plenty of opportunities to point out Gov. Corbett’s not-so-secret gaffes as they relate to women (they love to make dinner, etc.)
Wolf’s stance on gun control stands largely along party lines. While he makes note on his website that he supports gun owners’ rights to bear arms and understands the state’s long history of safe gun ownership, he’s told gun control advocacy groups that he supports their measures.
CeaseFire PA, one of the state’s largest gun control advocacy groups, drew up a 20-page report on where the gubernatorial candidates stand on their issues. Wolf said he supports expanded background checks, “while preserving the rights of law abiding gun owners.” Nice pol talk, Tom.
However, the Democrat hardly took a stance on issues like requiring gun dealers to report inventory to local law enforcement and requiring ammunition sellers to obtain a license. He did note that he supports a ban on the sale of assault weapons and is in favor of limiting high-capacity magazines.
Tom Wolf is totally fine with taxing gas companies. One of his highest-priority initiatives is to enact a 5 percent severance tax for natural gas extraction. In addition to the tax, Wolf wants stricter policies for drilling in the Marcellus Shale.
Wolf plans to funnel more money into the Department of Environmental Protection and force greater transparency among the gas companies. But Wolf doesn’t support the statewide moratorium on fracking adopted by the state Democratic Party. He does support a continued moratorium in the Delaware River Basin, according to the Harrisburg Patriot-News.
In addition, Wolf believes that climate change is a real thing that is actually happening. Here are a couple of Wolf’s main points in addressing the issue:
– Expand the use of clean energy: Wolf says he plans to introduce legislation to expand the state’s alternative energy portfolio.
– Issue Responsible Climate Change Action Plans: AKA, tell his Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection to come up with a report by October 2015.
– Green standards for state buildings: Wolf says he wants all new state building projects to meet green energy efficiency standards, but there’s a catch — only for large buildings, or buildings that are 20,000 sq. ft. or more.
– Reduce greenhouse gas emissions: Pennsylvania, shockingly enough, doesn’t currently cap greenhouse gas emissions. Now he’s like, if you like it then you shoulda put a cap on it.
Tom Wolf’s campaign says it supports a bill from state Sen. Wayne Fontana, D-Allegheny, that would specifically legalize ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft.
Wolf has said he’s not in favor of excluding Philadelphia from the bill. But Wolf’s campaign has said the Democrat would support city-wide changes in order to “create a level playing field that allows both taxis and ride-sharing businesses to compete for customers,”according to PlanPhilly.
One of the cornerstones of Wolf’s campaign policy on health care was expanding access to Medicaid based on new federal funds made available through the Affordable Care Act — in other words, playing nice with Obamacare. However, Corbett delayed expanding Medicaid until the federal government approved his plan to let private insurers administer the expansion. Wolf has said that as governor, he hopes to nix Corbett’s plan that gets private insurers into the mix and expand Obamacare’s version of Medicaid.
Now that Corbett took the step of expanding Medicaid himself, Wolf is left with plans of improving patient care through keeping more Pennsylvania primary care physicians in the state and enacting nurse-to-patient ratio regulations. Wolf has also said that he supports the state setting up and regulating its own exchange — the federal government currently runs the state’s.