There are many issues on the minds of Catholic voters in this election. On November 4, Election Day in the Commonwealth, we have important political choices to make.
The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference invited both candidates for Pennsylvania governor to share their views. Incumbent Governor Tom Corbett (Republican) sat down for an in-person interview and completed a written questionnaire (the complete interview transcript and survey responses are available at www.pacatholic.org). Democratic candidate Tom Wolf declined the PCC’s interview invitation and did not respond to the candidate questionnaire. Information about his views was therefore compiled from his campaign website and public statements.
On Life and the Dignity of the Human Person
Corbett opposes legalized abortion except when the life of the mother is in danger or the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. He said in his interview, “I have always been there for the unborn.” He cites the increased safety standards for abortion facilities and the law prohibiting coverage of elective abortions in the health insurance exchanges as the best examples of what he has done to protect life.
Corbett supports the death penalty and says, “It is needed as a deterrent and penalty for heinous crimes.”
Wolf says he has “always been a strong advocate on issues important to women” including “standing up for women’s reproductive rights.” He told the Jewish Exponent that he would repeal the Pennsylvania law that “does not allow women who signed up for health insurance from the Affordable Care Act exchange to purchase abortion coverage,” and “in addition to repealing this law, (he) will fight any legislation that places unnecessary restrictions on women’s health choices.”
Concerning the death penalty, Harrisburg’s PennLive reports that Wolf agrees that “a moratorium on the death penalty is in order while studying its value.”
On the Poor and Elderly
Corbett established the Elder Abuse Task Force when he was attorney general. As governor he created the Pennsylvania Long Term Care Commission to guide policies and help streamline services, and the Alzheimer’s Disease State Planning Committee to develop a comprehensive action plan to combat the disease. He says, “We have invested an additional $68 million for older Pennsylvanians and persons with disabilities to get them off the waiting list and allow them to stay in their homes and communities.”
Wolf’s campaign website states he will work to expand eligibility requirements for Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services. He outlines a plan to increase income eligibility, expand health eligibility, and improve access to home and community-based care services. The proposal would allow many of the residents currently served through the state-funded programs to shift to Medicaid.
Corbett supports school choice. His administration increased funding for the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program and established the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) program “to promote greater access to educational options.”
He also indicates that he would support increased funding for textbooks and instructional materials for nonpublic students if money is available in the state budget.
When asked about Pennsylvania’s educational tax credit programs, early in the campaign Wolf told the Jewish Exponent, “I do not think that public tax dollars should be diverted from our public schools to create a back-door voucher system.” Later his campaign sent a revised statement to the Exponent, “The EITC program has been an effective tool to invest in education and support student learning in a multitude of educational settings. While Tom will not interfere with the EITC program, ensuring that every student has access to a high quality public school will be his top priority as governor.”
On Covering the Uninsured
Corbett believes Pennsylvania should use the additional federal funds under the Affordable Care Act to allow more people, including the working poor, to access the private insurance market. He says his Healthy PA program will “leverage federal dollars to improve access, quality and affordability of health insurance” for qualified individuals and families who currently are uninsured. His plan was approved by the federal government as an alternative to simply expanding Medicaid.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Wolf “welcomed the prospect of expanded access to health care for many Pennsylvanians under the compromise between the Corbett and Obama administrations.” He went on to say, “if elected, he would consider a more straightforward extension of Medicaid.”
Corbett is a practicing Catholic and was educated in Catholic schools. He says his faith is part of who he is and his “decision making is certainly grounded in the morals that I learned throughout my entire life.”
Wolf has not made any statements about his personal faith nor does his campaign website indicate his religion.
As Catholic citizens, we have a moral obligation to participate in the political process. The PCC offers resources serve to educate voters about the issues and allow us to inform our consciences about which candidate will act in the best interest of the common good. Learn more about the election and other important issues at www.pacatholic.org.
Be sure to vote on November 4, 2014!
A.B. Hill is communications director of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference – the public affairs agency of Pennsylvania’s Catholic bishops and the Catholic dioceses of Pennsylvania. Stay up-to-date with Catholic news and issues at www.pacatholic.org,www.facebook.com/pacatholic, and www.twitter.com/pacatholic.