Gov candidate Hanger unveils jobs plan

Harrisburg bureau intern Megan Rogers filed the following report on the latest news in the 2014 governor's race:

Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Hanger Wednesday rolled out his job creation program.

Hanger, speaking at a news conference in the Capitol, said investing in transportation, public education and alternative energy, while moving forward with Medicaid expansion, will generate hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions in revenue.

Hanger, who served as environmental protection secretary under Gov. Ed Rendell, said his eight-point plan will create 382,750 jobs and ultimately generate more than $8 billion a year.

Hanger proposes increasing the state's transportation funding by $2.5 billion a year over five years to create 145,000 jobs. Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, will garner $4 billion from the federal government and create 41,000 jobs, he said.

Hanger criticized Gov. Corbett for following a "Tea Party playbook" and cutting state funding for social services.

If elected, Hanger said he would to restore $1 billion to public education and shift funding from failing charter schools to public education and good-performing charter schools. Charter schools receive about $975 million in state funding, yet 71 percent fail to meet yearly progress markers, Hanger said.

"The single biggest government spending waste is sending money to failing charter schools," he said.

How would he pay for it?

Hanger said he plans to redirect money from charter schools and impose a tax on natural gas drilling to provide additional education funding and lift the wholesale gas tax to pay for transportation needs.

Hanger wants to develop the state's energy resources, build a statewide network of alternative fueling stations to give consumers the option to buy natural gas and electric powered vehicles. He also said he hopes to create green jobs by restoring streams, installing air pollution controls and building water and sewage systems.

Hanger is one of five Democrats who have announced they will challenge the sitting Republican governor next year. They are U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, former DEP secretary Kathleen McGinty, former revenue secretary Tom Wolf and Max Myers, a Pentacostal minister from the Harrisburg area. Sen. Mike Stack of Philadelphia has said he is weighing a bid and treasurer Rob McCord has been mentioned as a potential contender.

In another sign the gubernatorial race is already well underway, the first debate of the 2014 campaign has been scheduled.

Harrisburg Hope, which describes itself as a grassroots political group committed to civil discourse, will host the debate June 5 at the Midtown Scholar Bookstore in Harrisburg. Organizers say Hanger and Wolf have said they will participate; McGinty is a maybe. No word from the other candidates, including Corbett.

(Rogers is an intern with the Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents Association.)

*This is cross-posted from Commownealth Confidential, the blog of The Inquirer's Harrisburg bureau.