Priorities


Growing up my family and I were never handed anything and hard work was something we expected of ourselves without anyone needing to push us or reward us for our efforts. I can still remember a time in America where we knew and respected workers, where a hard day’s work brought home a hard day’s wage, and that job security and good paying jobs meant your family could meet its needs. Times have changed, but I still believe in a basic social contract that says hard work leads to a good life for you and your family.

When elected I will do everything within my power to pursue sustainable economic growth across our state. In particular, my priority will be to bring back to Pennsylvania, and our district, good-paying jobs which can support families and our community because too many Pennsylvanians are still struggling from the results of the economic crisis, job outsourcing, and crippling debt. The future requires innovative, sustainable, responsible efforts by business people and entrepreneurs to work together with local, state, and federal officials. Vision is required to lead our community. It is through such Public-Private partnerships, working with experts, and people on the ground, that we will lead our economy out of the crisis and into a future that benefits all citizens. A sincere and thought-out plan is necessary and this cannot get bogged down in partisan politics or ideology. We must rise above in order to put people first. The livelihoods of too many families are at stake to let politics get in the way.

First, let’s talk REAL fiscal responsibility. That begins with being truthful. The Pennsylvania budget pays for common goods we all value: education, parks, roads, clean air and water, and so on. We value these and therefore we need a budget that is truthful and admits that we need to pay for common goods. Too many politicians try the con game of saying they won’t cut the things we value while they will cut taxes. And the con gets worse when state leaders cut goods like education forcing local leaders to pick up the slack.

PLAN TO SAVE PENNSYLVANIA

Pennsylvania’s economy was once among the most powerful in the world because we invested in people and everyone shared in the benefits of growth.  Our economy can grow fast and work for all of us if we put people first again.

 

The well-being of Pennsylvanians depends on the common goods we create together, and economic rules that are not rigged to serve the rich, but benefit everyone.  Economic growth is driven by rising wages and benefits, which allow people to buy more from our businesses.  And businesses can produce more if workers are better educated and trained.

 

PATH FORWARD:

 

Fair Wages, Benefits, and Worker Protections

A successful community helps working people protect their rights and dignity and improves wages and working conditions.

  • Raise wages by increasing the minimum wage and strengthening prevailing wage laws.
  • Strengthen the right to form unions by using state/local governments to help workers organize.
  • Create fair scheduling laws.
  • Guarantee all workers the right to earned sick days.
  • Vigorously enforce and expand wage-theft and non-discrimination laws, including for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians.
  • End race-based and gender-based wage gaps.
  • Raise the overtime threshold in PA, restoring the 40-hour work week for salaried workers

 

Educational Opportunity

Pennsylvanians deserve opportunities for the training and education they need to find meaningful and rewarding work.

  • Adequately and equitably fund K-12 education by increasing state funding through the fair funding formula.
  • Provide free college tuition for state system, state-related, and community colleges.
  • Provide grants for job training/apprenticeship programs that are tied to jobs that pay good wages.
  • Make Pre-K affordable for all families.

 

Health Care and Financial Security

Every Pennsylvanian has the right to basic necessities: food, housing, health care, a secure retirement, and freedom to be with their family.

  • Make quality, affordable health care accessible to all through expanded public health insurance options and regulatory reform that balances costs for Pennsylvania families.
  • Create a system of paid family and medical leave insurance.
  • Ensure that affordable and safe housing is available to all Pennsylvanians.
  • Expand SNAP and other programs to ensure that no one goes hungry in Pennsylvania.
  • Reform the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program so that it better serves Pennsylvanians with low incomes.
  • Expand transportation and child care programs for working Pennsylvanians with low incomes

 

Modern Infrastructure and CIean Air and Water

A growing economy needs first-class infrastructure and a sustainable environment. Businesses can’t thrive without the public infrastructure to transport goods and attract employees. Climate change threatens our air, water, and future.

  • Rebuild our roads and bridges.
  • Repair/expand public transit systems and create more options where public transit is unavailable.
  • Ensure that broadband internet is available throughout the state.
  • Embrace green principles to upgrade water and sewer systems, create jobs, and save money.
  • Protect our air and water by updating and vigorously enforcing environmental laws to meet current challenges – especially for natural gas fracking.
  • Rehabilitate blighted land and preserve open spaces.
  • Rapidly transition to renewable energy sources.

 

Tax Fairness

We must fix a tax system rigged against working- and middle-class people by asking the wealthy to pay their share.

  • Pass the Fair Share Tax Plan, which would lower the tax on wages/interest, increase the tax on income from wealth, generate $2B in revenue a year, and reduce taxes for 50% of PA taxpayers.
  • Pass a severance tax in Pennsylvania comparable to that of West Virginia.
  • Reform corporate taxes so all corporations pay their share, while lowering rates to help Pennsylvania-based businesses grow.
  • Provide targeted property tax relief to those with low incomes whose property taxes remain substantially above the state average.

 

Secure our Democracy

We must protect the rights and liberties of all Pennsylvanians.

  • Make it easier for people to vote.
  • End the gerrymandering of state and congressional legislative districts.
  • Eliminate barriers to participation in political and economic life based on race, gender and/or sexual orientation.
  • End the over-incarceration of Pennsylvanians.
  • Ensure that our state and local police forces are well-equipped to protect Pennsylvanians and hold accountable the few who abuse their power.

While fixing today’s economy, one of the most important ways to improve tomorrow’s economy is our education system. Our schools need to teach all children. We need to unleash the creative professionalism of our teachers. We must find ways to reverse the “brain drain” and keep our college graduates in the commonwealth, in our small towns and on our farms. We must find ways to make college affordable now and to ease the crushing debt burden of recent graduates.

As a doctor, as a mother, and as a citizen exercising her common sense, I believe that every American has a right life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Those three essential rights engrained in our constitution are not possible without health. Quality of life is as important as surviving. We have the right to see a doctor when we are sick, to live each day without pain, and to not be crippled by debt when we take care of ourselves and our loved ones.

As a society we can agree on the right to live a healthy life. This is why earlier generations had the foresight set up Medicaid and Medicare in the first place, to take care of those most in need. This is why our emergency facilities cannot turn away the sick and injured. This is why, to live my faith I heed the words of Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” As a community we are expected to care for one another and to lighten to burden of others. “Heal the sick… cleanse the lepers… You received without paying; give without pay.” (Matt 10:8)

Healthcare has costs, but the lives our Pennsylvanians are not commodities to be gambled, purchased, or sold. Our system is outdated and has failed too many. Prices and debt soar while effective care has declined and addiction is rampant. This results in the suffering of our children, the elderly on fixed incomes, and so many of our loved ones who live with both physical and mental pain. There are too many public health issues that continue to be unaddressed, and ignoring problems within our system only leads to more suffering and a tax burden on PA citizens. Immediate reform efforts must take place now, enacted by leadership with vision and compassion. We can begin again to truly care for each other as a community and we will not wait for the federal government to save us.

Our representatives should be working together to fix what isn’t working. Instead, we have spent years keeping a failing system alive while real people die. These legislative failures show what is wrong with the status quo and I will work with anyone from any party who wants to help put people first in our healthcare system.

 

How do we do this?

In our valley and across the country the opioid epidemic is killing people and ruining lives.  Prescription pain killers are often the root cause – and whether out of indifference or fear of the pharmaceutical lobby, our government has been too slow to take effective action. Only recently has the President declared the heroin and opioid epidemic a national health emergency.  We cannot continue to argue over funding for enforcement, treatment, and prevention. This is not a partisan issue. Instead we need to take comprehensive action to save lives. This begins by working with addiction experts, law enforcement, and local community organizations to draft legislation which does not deny prescription medication to those in need – but instead places necessary oversight of dangerous substances circulating in our communities.

Second, we must invest in prevention, expanded treatment access, and rehabilitation. It is the only proven way to reduce drug use, reduce recidivism rates, and save lives. Addiction is a disease that has plagued our society for too long, but those suffering from addiction need our help and compassion. Jail does not end addiction; it begins an endless cycle of incarceration which costs taxpayers too much and ruins the lives of many. Rehabilitation must be a priority, and criminal justice reform must be an essential component of this equation. We must first treat those suffering with addiction as patients, not enemies. A simple step we can take today is to promote prevention through 24/7 helplines for opioids and other addictions.

Lastly, we need hold accountable those who are fueling and profiting from this crisis. Individuals pushing drugs on our street, in doctors’ offices, and in company boardrooms must be stopped. Good legislation is necessary, and must work together with law enforcement and the healthcare industry to guarantee that justice is served.

The cost of healthcare and insurance over the last several decades has skyrocketed. Companies have made record profits year after year. The level of debt, and the number of bankruptcies due to medical costs, has crippled too many hardworking Pennsylvanians. We need to develop legislation which aims to reduce the cost of healthcare through both competition, and the expansion of public health options.

To reform the system, we must protect rural areas such as ours from monopolies in the health care system and health insurance markets. A free market requires a choice from real options that work for all Pennsylvanians. We must pass legislation that will identify and break these monopolies while also protecting our citizens from predatory practices. We must also explore the option of expanding health offerings to Pennsylvanians who cannot afford private insurance. Along these lines, the development of urgent care facilities and community organizations takes the burden off of our emergency rooms and prioritizes preventative care. This has been shown to reduce taxpayer costs, and save lives, and it must be a priority if we are truly going to reduce costs and provide care to all who need it. In addition, we must explore:

  • Pregnancy Prevention- Total preventative coverage for expecting mothers and children
  • Training for nurses and healthcare workers

Part of our efforts to ensure the health of our citizenry must be our efforts to conserve our environment. Landscape and conservation programs help rural land owners preserve watersheds, forests, wild areas. People who live here and send their kids to school here will do the work safely and responsibly, so that our families and future generations are breathing clean air and drinking clean water. Government should not be an impediment to energy development and job creation, but we rely on government to enforce the law and hold companies accountable if they endanger workers or pollute our air or water. For purely political reasons, this administration wants to undermine our government’s ability to perform basic inspection and law enforcement activities — just as Harrisburg has done here with our state enforcement activities. That’s a mistake, and I’ll work to ensure that our government has the necessary resources to do its job, keep workers safe, and protect our air and water.