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The 2014 Pennsylvania's Governor's Race: Allyson Schwartz

In roughly 260 days from now Pennsylvania residents will be able to control certain aspects of their lives when they take part in the election that will determine who will be state’s next governor on November 4, 2014.

Job growth means the big red arrow goes up and not down. Up is good. Down is bad.
Job growth means the big red arrow goes up and not down. Up is good. Down is bad.
Former Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz

Just as important as Election Day is which Democrat will be running for governor against Tea Party enthusiast and Republican Tom Corbett or if he will have anyone running against him for the Republican nomination.

Voters will be able to decide which Democratic candidate is the best. This is called the primary and that will take place on May 20, 2014.

Although no other GOP politician has thrown their hat against Corbett it’s still early and anything can happen especially when there has been talk for well over a year about getting Corbett out of Harrisburg by his own people. It also will depend on if a Republican would be lucky enough to win a term as governor especially after that party’s ongoing battle with anyone who isn’t a member of the GOP.

Every election year mainstream media doesn’t believe in critiquing those who have decided to run for political office until about a week before voting day which is usually too late because most people, especially ones who belong to a certain political party, have already made up their minds.

Another problem in regards to the late notice is that people don’t have the time to absorb a lot of facts concerning the candidates and how deeply they feel about the candidates which is what happened when Tom Corbett ran against a virtually unknown politician by three quarters of the state named Dan Onorato in 2010. Residents also didn’t know exactly what they needed to know about Corbett who had only been the attorney general.

Currently there are eight candidates who are vying for the Democratic nomination and for the next several weeks each of them will be the subject of an article so people will know exactly what that person stands for; that they’ll be able to honestly decide for themselves whether this person is the best choice. These articles will be based solely on facts and not conjecture.

Presently the other seven candidates are: John Hanger (former Department of Environmental Protection Secretary), Jo Ellen Litz (Lebanon County Commissioner), Katie McGinty (former Department of Environmental Protection Secretary), Max Myers (clergyman), Ed Pawlowski (Allentown Mayor), Rob McCord (State Treasurer), and Tom Wolf (former state Department of Revenue Secretary).

This week the focus will be on former Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz.

Allyson Young Schwartz was born on October 3, 1948 in New York City, New York to a Holocaust survivor (Renee) and a Korean War Veteran (Everett). In 1966 after graduating from high school she attended Simmons College in Boston, MA where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology. In 1972 she earned a Master of Social Work from Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, PA.

Allyson married David Schwartz, they have two sons Daniel and Jordan. The family resides in Jenkintown, PA which is a suburb of Montgomery County. Prior to moving to Jenkintown the family resided in Philadelphia. She is a lifelong Democrat and her religion is Judaism.

Right after graduation from Bryn Mawr College Schwartz got a job as an assistant director at the Philadelphia Health Services and she remained there until 1975 when she established the Elizabeth Blackwell Center in Philadelphia where she worked as the executive director until 1988.

In 1990 Allyson ran (and won) Pennsylvania’s fourth senate seat by a wide margin. She became only the third woman to ever have served in the senate. Mrs. Schwartz showed people that you can go up against candidates who have financially lucrative backing from establishments and win.

During that first term her efforts lead to the creation of the Children’s Health Care Insurance Program (CHIP) in 1992. The program became the archetype for a federal proposal that now provides health insurance to millions of middle-class children who otherwise may not have access to health care.

In 1994 and 1998 Allyson won re-election to the senate seat. She would hold this seat until 2005.

In 2005 she became a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania's 13th district and would go on to serve five terms.

During her time with the House of Representatives the first piece of legislation she introduced was to provide tax credits to businesses that hire unemployed veterans. The bill was signed into law in 2007.

Allyson Schwartz was the first one to call for Representative Anthony Weiner’s resignation over his nude photos.

She also became known as an expert regarding issues of health care and created several requirements to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which included providing more access to primary care, eliminating exclusions of pre-existing conditions as well as permitting young adults to remain on under their parents’ health insurance policies.

In 2011 Representative Schwartz initiated Hiring Our Veterans Act and the act was signed into law by President Barack Obama that same year. The act enabled employers to receive an increase in tax credit for those who hire veterans with a service connected disability.

In 2013 Schwartz announced that she was going to give up her House seat in order to run against Pennsylvania Republican Governor Tom Corbett for the governor’s seat in 2014.

What she believes:

  • She is pro-life
  • Allyson believes that every child is entitled to a great education, every adult is entitled to a good paying job and seniors are entitled to retire without feeling unsafe or disrespected.
  • That success in a child’s education begins with early childhood education such as pre-school.
  • Providing exemplary public education is the most important responsibility of the government.

What she intends to do as governor:

  • Make it easier to apply to college and to make the way to finance college more explicable. She wants to make the search and application process easier.
  • To introduce PA Achieves that will encourage community college students to achieve their associate’s degree and want to move on to receive their bachelor’s degree. Once they have done both of these things the students would receive a financial award that can be used at any of the state’s higher education facilities.
  • To create the Pennsylvania State System of Community Colleges that will help strengthen the state’s community colleges.
  • To relieve the burden of debt that many students from middle-class families experience by strengthening the state grant program as well as raising the income-eligibility requirements so that more students can receive state grants.
  • To immobilize tuition costs at State Universities for two-years in order to receive more financial support from the state. In addition these institutions will be held more accountable for their performance.
  • The state will be more supportive of higher education. As governor Allyson Schwartz will make sure that any support from the state will be more suitable and maintained.
  • Schwartz also wants to make top postsecondary colleges more affordable thus making them more available to residents.
  • Schwartz believes that all children are entitled to a great education and that education budgets should not depend on what county the students live in. To that end, she will determine the essential amount of state support for all students in Pennsylvania. A clear funding procedure that includes the student and school district traits to determine funding will be established.
  • To establish a five percent severance tax on natural gas production that will raise billions of dollars that will assist in the funding of education among other things.
  • Her first action as governor will be to reverse Corbett’s $1 billion of cuts by increasing the growth in the economy, re-prioritizing the budget that exists now and tapping into the resources that comes from the natural gas industry.
  • To establish a program called One Pennsylvania where children will receive an excellent education, adults will be able to get a good paying job, and seniors can retire with security and dignity.
  • To launch Keystone Kids that will provide access to voluntary pre-kindergarten to all children who are 4 years of age within 10 years.

How she has voted:

  • Abortion: Yes on expanding research on embryonic stem cell lines and on more research in general. No: On banning health care coverage for abortions and confining interstate transport for minors to get abortions. Schwartz would also like more access for contraceptives to low-income women and would like more focus on pregnancy prevention.
  • Gun Control: No to restricting product misuse lawsuits on manufacturers, wants to prevent unauthorized guns using smart gun technology, wants to close gun show loopholes that would curb show sales, stop the selling of a lot of capacity of ammunition, stricter regulations at gun shows for the sales of firearms.
  • Health Care: No on the Ryan Budget which called for tax and spending cuts, repealing the Prevention and Public Health slush fund and denying non-emergency treatment due to client’s inability to pay the co-pay. Voted yes on: legalizing tobacco as a drug, on expanding CHIP, giving mental health the same fairness as physical health, extend CHIP to cover six million more kids and to establish report cards for HMO quality of care.
  • Homeland Security: Voted yes on: extending the Patriot Act’s roving wiretaps, on requiring FISA warrants for wiretaps, but only in the U.S., continuing military recruitment on college campuses, and to repeal Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell and reinstate discharged gays. She voted no: On allowing electronic surveillance without a warrant and for federalizing driver’s license to discourage terrorists.
  • Immigration: Schwartz voted no on building a fence on the Mexico border and yes to preventing tipping off the Mexicans about the Minuteman Project.

In politics, probably other areas of life as well, a pro can be a con and vice versa. In Allyson Schwartz’s case the same is probably true. Whether these items will help or hurt her campaign is really up to the voter, but here they are anyhow:

  • Schwartz is probably the most recognizable out of all the other candidates.
  • She has a proven track record that has remained consistent during her 14 years as a politician.
  • She was also a member of Congress during the period when there was a shutdown and they still got paid while many government employees got furloughed.
  • Schwartz has been a member of Congress throughout the recession and banking industry fallout. She was also a member when there were no real job bills introduced and as of 2012 while still in office hundreds of thousands of Americans were out of work. That number is now in the millions.
  • Allyson is a lifelong Democrat and has not waivered on her loyalty to the party. Although she makes herself look like a liberal Democrat in reality she is a moderate Democrat.
  • She is pro-life.
  • She is pro-education and pro-health care. Schwartz is also pro-human.
  • Schwartz has a lot of ideas to make this state better.
  • She wants the children of this state to succeed.
  • Allyson has definite ideas on gun control and this may hurt her in central areas of the state, with NRA activists and gun aficionados.
  • Schwartz has not disclosed her plans to improve services for special education kids and especially those in the Autistic community. She certainly hasn’t addressed how Corbett’s cuts have hurt these children or what she’ll do to improve their lives.
  • She also hasn’t talked about improving services for adults with Autism who will need care after they reach 18 years of age.
  • She also has not mentioned how she will over haul The Department of Public Welfare and begin to address the abysmal way state employees treat people coming in for help.
  • Allyson also has not unveiled any plans on how she is going to address the rampant unemployment or crime that plagues cities like Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
  • She also has failed to mention the funding or reduction of funding of the food stamp program (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP) which gets its funding through Congress which is the place where she spent a bulk of her political career. This should be an important part of her campaign because welfare recipients vote too. Currently a family that receives $347 per month only has enough food to last three weeks because of the high prices of food.

Recently she has decided to insert herself into the ongoing squabble between a possible methadone clinic and a neighborhood in Philadelphia. Schwartz contacted the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) asking them to stop the development of said methadone clinic. She states in the letter that the neighborhood is being adequately serviced by other agencies in the area which it’s not. The media reports and Schwartz herself let it be known that she didn't know all sides of this particular issue which as a governor she needs to everything about any issue that crosses her desk.

Whether Allyson Schwartz will be the next governor and whether she can actually deliver what she promises will be up to the voters. It will also depend on if she can explain some of her decisions and actions during her time as a politician.

Ms. Schwartz must learn, if she wants to be governor, to be careful not to draw lines in the sand as deep as the Grand Canyon which she has done regarding her views about gun control as well as aligning herself too early with residents and not reaching out to learn the facts from the methadone community.

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