Dems mostly agree in WHYY forum on governor's race

Five of the seven declared candidates for Pennsylvania’s 2014 Democratic gubernatorial nomination spoke at WHYY today. Top row, from left, are U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, Pentecostal minister Max Myers (who did not appear), and former state environmental protection secretary Kathleen McGinty. Bottom row, from left, are former state revenue secretary Tom Wolf, Lebanon County Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz, and former state environmental protection secretary John Hanger. (AP Photos)

Five of the seven Democratic candidates for governor in the May 20 primary election mostly agreed on several issues while speaking in a forum sponsored by WHYY and the Philadelphia Business Journal.  For a more complete report, check out tomorrow's Daily News.

The candidates appearing were U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, former state environmental protection secretaries Kathleen McGinty and John Hanger, former state revenue secretary Tom Wolf and Lebanon County Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz.  On the issues, they said:

  • They oppose the privatization of the state's liquor store system.  All of the candidates said the current system should be improved but not replaced.
  • They support closing the "Delaware loophole" that allows an estimated 70 percent of corporations doing business in Pennsylvania to avoid paying the state's corporate net income tax because they are chartered in Delaware.  The candidates said closing that loophole would bring in more revenue, allowing the state to lower the tax rate for all corporations here.
  • They support a tax on drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale formation to produce revenue to help pay for public education.
  • They support raising the minimum wage in Pennsylvania.  Four of the candidates want to increase it from $7.25 per hour to $10.10 per hour.  McGinty wants to raise it to $9 per hour and make increases automatic to increases in the rate of inflation.
  • Four of the five reluctantly said they would consider expanding gambling in the state when asked about keno or online gaming.  Litz said she opposes the idea.

The forum was collegial, with the candidates saving their criticism for the man they hope to meet in the Nov. 4 general election, Gov. Corbett, who delivered his state budget address an hour after the forum ended.

Corbett's campaign accused the Democrats of being "no less predictable than the sun rising in the morning" for offering higher taxes and more spending as solutions to the state's problems.