Scott Wagner, the Republican nominee for governor, rolled out a plan to help struggling cities Tuesday and said that Democrats like Gov. Wolf have taken urban areas for granted.
"When you look around your communities, and especially Philadelphia, and see what Democrats like Tom Wolf have delivered, what do you have to lose by taking a chance on someone committed to engaging and improving your life?" Wagner said at an event for the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia.
"When Philadelphians and those who live in cities across Pennsylvania go home tonight, they should take a look at their neighborhoods and ask themselves if it looks like they're being forsaken," Wagner said at the gathering at the Pyramid Club on Market Street.
The Wolf campaign said Wagner would be a "disaster for the people of Pennsylvania," citing, among other things, his support for cuts to education funding under former Gov. Tom Corbett.
Wagner, a former state senator from York County and founder of a waste-hauling business, called for "clear sentencing and bail guidelines" so that punishment fits the crime, but stopped short of proposing the elimination of cash bail. States including New Jersey and California have embraced that model.
Wagner said he would establish a fund to provide access to low-interest loans "for citizens seeking to start a business in their local communities — especially in our most distressed areas."
He said public assistance programs had largely failed to lift Pennsylvanians out of poverty, adding that he would "overhaul any program that is not providing a pathway to financial independence or adequately supporting our most needy."
Wagner said he would look to the private sector for better solutions to poverty, proposing a "pay for success" program under which the state would seek proposals from companies and only disburse funds "after the project has been completed and the results have been measured."
Philadelphia has the highest poverty rate among the 10 most populated U.S. cities, at nearly 26 percent, according to the Census Bureau.
The Wolf campaign said Wagner would not help the needy. Wagner said during the primary campaign that Pennsylvania should roll back the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. More than 700,000 people in Pennsylvania have enrolled in Medicaid since Wolf expanded it in 2015.
On Tuesday, Wagner told reporters that no one would lose insurance if he were governor, but that he would seek a waiver from the federal government. "I think we can do a much better job managing the dollars ourselves," he said.
The Wolf campaign has also pointed to Wagner's remarks to a tea party group a couple years ago that he was angered that the state didn't tax seniors' retirement income. Wagner now says he would not levy such a tax.
"It's clear what Pennsylvanians would lose if Scott Wagner were elected governor," said Beth Melena, spokesperson for the Wolf campaign.
Wagner on Tuesday said another barrier to gainful employment was limited access to transportation. He said he would create a Mass Transit Advisory Board "to oversee and develop innovation" and also partner with ride-sharing companies, such as Uber and Lyft, to "fill the gaps in transportation that mass transit cannot provide to the urban traveler."
It wasn’t immediately clear how Wagner would pay for some of these proposals, though he said his transit board would create efficiencies.