Katie McGinity, a Democratic candidate for governor, last week released a kindergarten to 12th-grade education plan titled “Strong Schools. Bright Futures.”
McGinty, a Rhawnhurst native who attended Resurrection of Our Lord Grammar School and St. Hubert High School, would increase education funding to reduce class size, add support for gifted students, provide teachers with additional training and expand access to pre-kindergarten and full-time kindergarten.
“Improving our schools is also the key to our economic future and our ability to attract jobs,” McGinty said. “Companies won’t move to Pennsylvania if our schools are lagging behind. Our children deserve better.”
To pay for the increased spending, McGinty proposes a severance tax on natural gas that would generate a minimum of $600 million in additional annual revenue.
McGinty said additional sources of revenue for schools would be obtained from increased tax revenue as Pennsylvania’s economy grows, along with cost savings from other areas of the state budget.
McGinty served as an aide to former U.S. Sen. Al Gore Jr. and as chair-wo-man of the White House Coun-cil on En-vir-on-ment-al Qual-ity in the Clin-ton ad-min-is-tra-tion. She was an ad-viser on Gore’s 2000 pres-id-en-tial cam-paign and spent six years as sec-ret-ary of the Pennsylvania De-part-ment of En-vir-on-ment-al Pro-tec-tion.
The National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) endorsed Democrat John Hanger for governor, citing his “smarter approach” to changing marijuana laws.
The endorsement marks the first time the national organization has endorsed a candidate for governor in Pennsylvania. The organization is fully behind Hanger’s “three-step plan” to implement medical marijuana access and decriminalization of marijuana possession in 2015 and to then build on those steps to move toward full legalization and regulation by 2017.
The plan calls for immediately lifting the prohibition on medical use of marijuana, followed by the lifting of criminal penalties for possession of small quantities for recreational use, and, finally, legalization of possession of small quantities for recreational use. The plan also includes expunging the records of past marijuana possession convictions involving small quantities for personal use, and dedicating a share of revenues raised through taxation of legal marijuana to support addiction treatment services.
The plan will save the commonwealth hundreds of millions of dollars a year in enforcement costs, provide sick patients with medicine and create a tax-generating industry for the state.
McGinty is one of eight Democrats hoping for the chance to face Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.
Corbett has received the backing of former GOP Govs. Dick Thornburgh, Tom Ridge and Mark Schweiker.
“Gov. Corbett has been fighting for Pennsylvania’s taxpayers from day one, closing a $4.2 billion deficit without tax increases and steering Pennsylvania through tough economic times,” Ridge said. “He has nurtured a competitive environment for the private sector that has resulted in the creation of more than 100,000 family-sustaining jobs.”
McGinty was second among Democrats in a survey commissioned by Harper Polling.
U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz led the way with 22 percent, followed by McGinty (15 percent), state Treasurer Rob McCord (12 percent), former Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger (7 percent), Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski (6 percent) and former state Department of Revenue Secretary Tom Wolf (5 percent).
The survey did not include Lebanon County Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz or Max Myers, a Cumberland County pastor, businessman and author.
Harper Polling used an automated telephone survey, contacting 649 Democrats on Nov. 9-10.
Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 37, which represents members in southeastern Pennsylvania, including Montgomery and Philadelphia counties, has endorsed state Rep. Brendan Boyle in the 13th Congressional District Democratic primary.
“Our police selflessly put their lives on the line to protect and serve. I’ll be their voice in Congress, working to ensure that we have sensible gun laws to keep them safe and the tools they need to keep us safe. I will work to make sure that hard-working men and women like our police and firefighters are not asked to shoulder additional burdens until millionaires and the largest corporations on Earth start paying their fair share,” Boyle said.
Meanwhile, Boyle released his first campaign video. In it, he talks about his support from more than 20 local labor organizations.
“When millionaires are paying lower tax rates than cops and firefighters, and the largest corporations on Earth are getting billions in handouts - while we cut proven anti-hunger programs and talk about privatizing Medicare - something is really out of whack with where we’re heading as a country,” he said.
One of the worst-kept secrets in local politics is that state Sen. Anthony Williams will run for mayor in 2015.
Williams, who made a failed bid for governor in 2010, hasn’t announced his candidacy, in part, because he will be seeking re-election to his Senate seat next year.
Last week, he hosted a reception at the Radisson-Warwick Hotel on 17th Street. Some 200 people attended, and Williams hinted that he will return to the venue to announce a mayoral run.
“Hopefully, this room will be as full, if not fuller,” he said.
Williams, whose chief advisers are longtime political consultants Marty Weinberg and Bill Miller, said he is concerned about the 30-percent poverty rate in Philadelphia.
Williams, who was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1988 and to the Senate in 1998, was introduced by District Attorney Seth Williams, no relation. The district attorney is a former intern for the senator.
“I am proud to be a member of ‘Team Tony,’ “said D.A. Williams, sporting a “Team Tony” button.
On Sunday, Sen. Williams attended a fundraiser at Bustleton’s Congregations of Shaare Shamayim for Program Hope, which caters to needy local Russian-American families.
Other possible mayoral candidates include City Controller Alan Butkovitz. Businessman Tom Knox announced last week that he would not run.
The Republican City Committee will pay tribute to President John F. Kennedy on Friday, the 50th anniversary of his assassination in Dallas. John Fritz will recite Kennedy’s inaugural address at 5 p.m. at the United Republican Club, at 3156 Frankford Ave.
Admission is free, though donations will be accepted for Prevent Child Abuse Pennsylvania. Dr. Maria McColgan, a board member of the organization, will talk about the issue of child abuse. ••