HARRISBURG (AP) – We take a look at where Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf and Republican gubernatorial nominee Scott Wagner stand on some key issues. Wolf has opposed any effort to curtail abortion or cut off state funds from Planned Parenthood. Wolf has also been a Planned Parenthood escort. Wagner is pro life and voted for legislation, vetoed by Gov. Wolf last year, to ban elective abortions after the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, compared with 24 weeks in current law. He also opposes state funding for Planned Parenthood and supports a “heartbeat bill” that would ban abortion after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, usually at around six weeks of pregnancy.
On the death penalty, Wolf is granting reprieves – not commutations – when inmates are scheduled for execution, creating an effective moratorium on the death penalty. Wolf has said he has concerns about a “flawed system that has been proven to be an endless cycle of court proceedings as well as ineffective, unjust, and expensive.” Wagner supports the death penalty. He said he will sign death warrants and will work to expand the application of the death penalty.
On guns, Wolf supports a ban on the sale of assault weapons and bump stocks and an expansion of background checks to cover private sales of shotguns, sporting rifles, and semi-automatic rifles. Wagner opposes more restrictions on gun ownership or gun sales. He also opposes an expansion of background checks on gun purchases. Wagner voted for legislation to force people with a domestic violence conviction or restraining order against them to more quickly forfeit their firearms, and Wolf signed it earlier this month.
On labor unions, Wagner supports legislation to prohibit all labor unions from collecting dues from employees who refuse to join the union or pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment. Wolf opposes the legislation.
On property taxes, Wagner supports eliminating school property taxes under legislation that theoretically would make up for more than $13 billion in disappearing property tax revenue by raising the rates of the state’s personal income and state sales tax, and expanding the base of the sales tax. Wolf stands by a $3.2 billion plan he floated in 2015 to be financed by increases in personal income and state sales taxes. Under Wolf’s plan, most of the money – just over $2 billion – would go to districts in the bottom half of average income. The plan is part of Wolf’s goal of raising the state’s share of education funding to 50%, up from nearly 38% in 2016-17.
On public schools, Wolf said he will continue to push for more funding to ensure every student gets a good education, although he has not outlined specific amounts. In his first term, lawmakers approved an additional $1 billion in education aid, about half of what Wolf had originally sought. Wagner supports legislation to create taxpayer-funded “education savings accounts” that places state aid for public schools into accounts that parents can use for tuition for schools they choose. Wolf opposes the bill. Wagner also said he would support a $1 billion injection of cash into public schools in his first year as governor.