WILKES-BARRE — Katie McGinty said she is the best choice to be Pennsylvania’s next governor because she will and always has gotten things done.
McGinty, 50, of Wayne, Chester County, is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor in the May 20 primary. She stopped at The Times Leader to discuss the race and to offer her positions on key issues facing the state.
“Education and jobs — those are the two main issues and they are linked,” McGinty said. “And one of the first things I would do as governor is enact a severance tax on the natural gas industry and apply it all to restoring the drastic cuts Gov. Corbett made to education. And I would then look to offer some property tax relief.”
McGinty, who served six years as state secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, said Pennsylvania faces many challenges in job creation and stimulating the economy, but she feels the state has all that is needed to move from its current ranking of 48th in creating new jobs.
“Pennsylvania has always been good at making things,” she said. “Gone are the old smokestacks. The future is in information technology, robotics and high-tech.”
McGinty said that when she was environment secretary, Pennsylvania was ranked number one in clean energy jobs and cleaned up old factories to create even more jobs.
“With our natural resources, world-class workforce and universities, we should be winning manufacturing and bio-tech jobs,” she said. “We want to build an economy whether you wear steel-toe boots or a white lab coat.”
McGinty said she is running for governor to fight for those who “clock in, work hard and need a hand.”
McGinty also said she would raise the state’s minimum wage, including for restaurant workers, to $10.10 per hour with automatic adjustments for inflation.
“I don’t just have a vision,” she said. “I have a proven track record. That’s what I bring to this race that the other candidates don’t.”
McGinty said she is tired of going to well sites throughout Pennsylvania and seeing license plates from Oklahoma and Texas. She said too many jobs are being lost to Pennsylvanians.
“We have trained workers who can do those jobs,” she said. “We need to assure those jobs are kept here.”
Pennsylvania needs a diversified economy, she said, and she will seek employers who will offer family-sustaining jobs. She favors offering tax incentives to start-up companies.
In November, McGinty proposed a K-12 Education Plan — “Strong Schools, Bright Futures” — to be paid for by a severance tax on natural gas. And in January, McGinty proposed a College Affordability Plan that called for new scholarship programs to make college more affordable for middle- and lower-income families.
Safe, clean streets
McGinty recently unveiled a three-part plan to hire additional police and purchase new law enforcement equipment. Noting that budget cuts have resulted in smaller local police departments and increased reliance on the state police, McGinty said fighting crime is not just a public safety issue, but also an economic development issue because cities and towns will prosper only if citizens feel safe in their neighborhoods.
“It’s a prerequisite to economic development,” she said. “If people don’t feel safe, they won’t go to restaurants or movie theaters — they will stay at home.”
McGinty noted many communities have either drastically reduced or eliminated police forces. She said her proposal would put 1,000 more police on the streets dedicated to community policing—a nearly 5 percent increase in the number of officers on the beat.
Politics and voter ID
McGinty realizes that if she is elected that she will be dealing with a Republican legislature, but she is confident she can co-exist and get things done.
“If voters are really tired of old, shrill politicians and want a candidate who is tested and who can solve problems, then I’m that candidate,” she said. “Government should be a problem-solver. That’s been my job description for 25 years.”
McGinty praised Monday’s court decision not to reconsider overturning the state’s voter ID law, and she urged Gov. Corbett not to appeal the decision.
In his ruling, the judge said “the evidence showed the voter ID provisions at issue deprive numerous electors of their fundamental right to vote, so vital to our democracy.”
McGinty called Corbett’s spending around $7 million of taxpayer dollars to defend and promote the law “a travesty” that was politically motivated.