Gov. Wolf on prisons, pensions and the taxes that shouldn't go up
At the Philly Chamber
On Pennsylvanians splitting their votes between parties: "People are looking for practical solution for anxieties and worries. If they think I can do it they'll elect me." And Trump.
Killing Obamacare: "700,000 Pennsylvanians" are on Affordable Care Act plans, "63,000 for substance abuse. If he takes that away and doesnt replace it that's thousands of people I don't know what they will do...
"We have a national health care system, it's called the emergency room. You move back away from insurance, it means more uncompensated care for hospitals. For people who pay for insurance, it's a subsidy to people who don't." Which is a chaotic way to fund care, Wolf says.
"The Affordable Care Act is an important first step" toward insurance for everyone, Wolf concluded. "Keep the bones of it."
On populism and anti-government attitudes: "I'm focused on trying to get things done. So we have fewer people in that (upset) category. I will work with members of the legislature to get that done.
President Trump should do the same: "We as citizens of the United States need to hold him accountable."
Later we asked: About that late prison: About an opening date for the delayed $400 million State Correction Institute Phoenix, in Skippack Township, Montgomery County, that was supposed to open in 2015: "I'm not sure," Wolf told me. "It started before I was governor. It's more than a year bey0nd schedule. John Wetzel (who heads) the Department of Corrections is working hard to make sure it actually gets back on track. I don't have a date."
Property taxes: "I am for elimination of the property tax. That is at the heart of fiscal disparities between school districts. I agree with that goal." But Bill 76 -- the ones in both Senate and House -- "have some real problems. That raises sales tax and income tax pretty dramatically. It ends exemption for food and clothing. Diapers will be taxed."
Charter schools: "We need to make sure charter schools are paying their fair share. Charter school reform is essential."
Right-to-Work: While his own company was non-union, which Wolf attributed to generous benefits and profit-sharing, "I don't understand the logic behind right-to-work," which allows union members to pull out of their organization unilaterally.
"We live in a country where the majority rules. Donald Trump won -- the Electoral College makes him President. That does not give me the right to opt out or (stop paying) my taxes. We all benefit from the infrastructure he will build. A system (that allows individuals to pull out of an elected union without a vote) is inconsistent with the free market."