Thursday, February 04, 2010

Joe Hoeffel on PCN Call In Show

Yesterday evening Democratic gubernatorial candidate Joe Hoeffel was on the PCN Call-In Show.

The show is on their website ( viewing at your convenience. I watched today and took notes. They are not intended as a transcript and I apologize in advance for any errors or misconceptions.

Larry Kaspar hosts the show. Callers also ask questions.

LK: Why running:

JH: want to do a better job for PA. hope to provide leadership in Harrisburg to bring things together and get things done.

LK: what is starting point for next gov

JH: no question jobs. I favor using state resources both to invest in older communities and adequately fund early childhood ed programs so workforce can be well education and trained.

LK: why want to be gov at this point in time

JH: a challenge. I’ve been in public office 24 years, public service a very high calling, learned from parents, would like opportunity

LK: what to do to attract jobs

JH: need well-trained workforce, need more college grads and use community colleges more. Need to focus on sectors that are growing, such as green economy, numerous green econ jobs we need to develop here in PA, invest in older downtowns and communities.

LK: if you were to give Rendell’s budget speech:

JH: create jobs, make people understand gov has an important role to play. Create coalitions across divides, with rural communities, use state resources to education children and educate

LK: poll, most imp issues economy, taxes, spending, debt, health care. Health care?

JH: really disappointed in D majority in house and senate for not passing health care reform. Tea baggers exaggerate. Dems didn’t realize the anger out there, but should have passed health care. Instead dilly dallied. Need lost cost health care and public option. Hard to know what PA should do until federal issue settled. Best model is medicare model, single payer.

Q: pro life or pro abortion

JH: pro-choice, have always been that way since a young legislator, opposed current restrictions on abortion in PA, needs to be made more fair. Being pro choice more than just right to abortion but trusting women to make their own decisions, want to empower women. Decision should be made by women and family and doctors

LK: federal law on abortion

JH: house and senate not in agreement. Fed law says no fed funding can be used for abortion except certain circumstances. Need to include health of mother in those exceptions

LK: [missed the question]

JH: we are all equal, laws should be equal. Marriage equality overdue in this country.

Q: used to be a D, but a sportsman. Problems with game commission and dcnr. Not enough deer in rural areas.

JH: want to protect sportsmens’ rights, hunting a great tradition in PA. want more gun safety laws on the books. Can do that and protect hunters and sportsman rights, too. Not a hunter but a fly fisherman. Not up on abuses of power by dept of conservation and natural resources. Must balance those rights and environment and jobs

LK: med marijuana

JH: medicinal only, under drs orders, for patients who can’t get pain relief from other medications, tight restrictions on its use

Q: state workers pawns in greater scheme of things. Wife worked for state 35 years, would like to retire, but worried about pension

JH: some want to change current system of defined benefits to defined contributions. Want to keep current system, with responsibility of both employee and employer to fund. If defined contributions then state pays in but if left in market and market goes bad retirees stuck

LC: pension fund viewed as a bubble about to burst

JH: legislators increased own benefits 50%, disagree with that, also increased
teachers, etc 25% but did not fund. Then when market crashed and pension funds lost value all of the sudden underfunded. Need recovery which solve a lot of the problem but state must contribute every year. Faces this in Montgomery County

Q: watched interviews of candidates running for gov, all for abortion and same sex marriage. Very disappointed with people favoring abortion. Have you ever seen an abortion and what would be your plan to help our girls who struggle the rest of their life after they realize what they’ve done

JH: this decision very personal. Women should make that decision in consultation with their doctor. Pro choice and always have been but competitors not consistent on this.

LK: Gov Rendell making budget speech next week, efforts to cap drilling Marcellus shale

JH: definitely need to tax extraction, should have done it this year. Companies from out of state coming in and making millions and millions of dollars, need to protect environment from waste water created in process. This drilling will create jobs and help with energy independence and that is good but process creates a lot of waste water and just putting it back into environment, very dangerous. Before using water to break up shale inject with chemicals. Would like to see Dept of Environmental Protection temporarily put a hold on drilling permits until we figure out how to deal with waste water and put a tax on it. Use tax revenue to increase budget for dep, permit reviewers, etc., agriculture dept, renew growing greener. If gas field as large as thought can use revenue to help communities where drilling is, etc, but must make sure environment protected

Q: statewide elections, not good voter turnout, esp in Philadelphia area and South East Pennsylvania

JH: right about low voter turnout in city. The answer is not geographic but we need candidates that will inspire a higher turnout. In Philly issues of poverty injustice, empowerment for African Americans. PA needs an urban strategy. If voters feel they are being ignored they aren’t going to vote. Candidates have to be sharp and tell people the truth and hope voters respond.

Q: problems result of both sides arguing and bickering. What will you do to bring them together.

JH: far too much partisanship in Harrisburg and Washington. No question next gov has to bring us together. Done that in Montco, worked as minority d commissioner worked effectively with R colleagues. Vice chairman of board of commissioners. Things we disagree on we set aside, things we agree on, econ development, etc., we do. Don’t air disagreements in public. I like legislators, used to be one, confident can bring people together to get things done.

LK: primary. What distinguishes your campaign from others

JH: my profile through 24 years in office, socially liberal, fiscally responsible, represents majority opinion in D and R. stand out from competitors, all good men, stand out as more liberal socially, having broader experience in government

Q: pension system. Anyone in current system has to be honored.

JH: thanks for question and points made. My view is average public employee is not highly paid for that particular job, most can make more money in private sector. Not true for all but true for many. Public service is its own reward but must put food on table. Benefits and pension. Don’t want to change it. Refers back to defined benefits vs defined contributions. Possible to keep up with current benefits but state must keep it funded, need stock market to recover. A deal is a deal. We promised these pensions.

Q: 8 years of a worthless gov, a D, has done nothing for this state, for Philly. Now someone similar wants to come in. all I see from D’s is spend spend spend.

JH: I think you must be in another world. Rendell has done some great things for PA. our unemployment rate is lower than national level, 2 points below. I disagree with your view of things. Totally entitled to your views but we disagree.

LK: Franklin & Marshall poll, Rendell unfavorable ratings at over 40%

JH: direct result of budget fight. Rendell held more responsible than legislature. I believe I can do a good job working with legislature, regaining that effective working relationship. After 7 years of battling and obstructionism from senate GOP, more so than from House. Political parties have to knock it off. When in office have to govern, in Harrisburg and dc. Not what public wants. Hopes public will punish those who have done it.

Q: why PA has largest legislatures in country, downsize.

JH: I don’t think our problems in Harrisburg due to size of legislatures. It is a large legislature. But the number of legislators doesn’t correlate to how good they are. Won’t sign budget if it has slush funds. Recent audit by State Rep Josh Shapiro shows there is [missed number, in millions] in legislative slush funds, should be returned to general fund, doesn’t like WAMs, given out to individual projects without input from appropriations committee. Need legislative budget office similar to congressional budget office, professional non-partisan renders funding on what a bill will cost. No one fights over it because it is nonpartisan. In Harrisburg they fight all the time and disagree over numbers. Will make budget process easier and smoother.

LK: bio

JH: over the last 35 years have served I public office for 24, state rep, county commissioner, 6 years in congress, now on 2nd tour of duty with county commissioners, fought for economic development, equal rights, etc, take that experience to governors office, make it more effective for people

Q: our current gov, promised elimination of property taxes, table games, earmarks to do other projects, payouts from casinos terrible, how much of gaming money going to prop taxes

JH: don’t know exact percentages. Local property tax is a terrible tax, bad for retirees and disabled, prop taxes keep going up. Move from prop tax to income tax. Right now state pays 35% of cost of schools, national average is 47%. Gov and legis did beef up school subsidy formula. Pledges support to formula but when goes up puts burden on local area. Tax revenue from natural gas extraction, greater share on state income tax, a graduated tax as 34 other states have. Only one with flat tax. Heavy reliance of prop tax, hard to raise money for special needs

Q: how many companies in private sectors have pensions. How can private sector pay pensions?

JH: many people in private sector have pensions but some do not. Benefits to employees among first things cut back. Montco did not increase tax. Have a tough time at all levels of govt if recession continues. Cutting pensions not the answer.

LK: give us an example of east / west, etc.

JH: Democrats best served by nominating someone with a clear diff from Corbett, also an honorable man. East / west mostly a geographic distinction. D’s shouldn’t coast and take things for granted as did in Massachusetts. Get things done, push back against tea baggers against obstructionism, people of PA deserve better than that. Want to draw clear distinction between Democratic and Republican.

LK: The election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts did that mean any adjustments in your campaign

JH: voters are mad, worried about jobs, childrens econ future. Sometimes bickering in majority party, like in dc with health care. Major blunder, probably major reason voters made in MA.

Q: financing start up small business

JH; as a state legislator helped start Ben Franklin [missed name, it is a business incubator] giving a nurturing business climate. Worked for a time in international business at the Department of community and Economic Development. We want to keep this a wonderful place to raise a family and invest in a business. Jobs today being created in small business sector

Q: Philly democratically run for last 70 years, what reform

JH: my view is we’ve got to get past these regionally hostilities these grudges, urban / suburban / rural. We are competing with large and effective entities around the country and around the world for jobs.. if we don’t get out act together. If we fight we’ll lose out. We won’t get international investment. On a small scale Montco economic development program, invested in small co, US Maintenance, Norristown is now their North American hq. invest locally, gave them support, cooperated with govt of Norristown. As govenor that is job 1 for me.

LK: early stages of campaign

JH: is it early, people have other concerns right now, battle for attention, enjoying the process,

LK: what diff emerged from other D candidates in debates

JH: agree on economy, disagree on some social values, support stronger for women’s rights to make own reproductive decisions, gun safety, strict environmental protection, civil rights for all and marriage quality. Important for voters to understand diff. on econ issues, know how to marshall resources of govt, econ development in older communities and downtown.

Q: if elected would you support constitutional convention to truly reform all branches of govt

JH: we should consider it because we need fundamental reform in Harrisburg. Some people fear this as for possibility of rewriting from left or right. Should send good people to convention, elect them, then must be public referendum to approve it. If it went to extremes, as governor would ask for a no vote and lead charge against it. In meantime as gov would fight for these reforms, ethics, campaign finance reforms, legislative reforms.

Q: independent voter, disenfranchised in primary

JH: agree, as a legislator supported a bill but it didn’t pass that would allow independent voters to vote in one or another party’s primary.

Q: have watched you since you were a young legislator. You strength has always been your unquestioned integrity. Will you tell us how you would deal with bidding and contributors

JH: professional contracts by law do not have to be bid but should have some competition to get good professionals and good price. Use rfp, etc., to get best value for taxpayers. Absolutely need campaign finance reform. Requires disclosure but not limits. Would like to see caps on size on contrib., $5K. We need more transparency, stronger teeth for violations. Pay to play abuses. Competition in contracts very important.

Q: companies get tax credit for jobs and then leave, or just use temp agencies instead of creating full time jobs

JH: when govt uses tax dollars for econ dev has to protect those jobs. Clawback clause, where if contract violated can take back money. Shouldn’t fund companies close to going bankrupt. When at dced my job was to attract companies. Alternative energy industry is more development in Europe and Asia. bring those companies here but be careful. If give govt money must be careful

LK: why should d vote for you

JH; have experience, compassion for most vulnerable , courage to say we need govt, an open and honest govt, to pair up with private sector. Will fight for equality for all. We’re all in this together.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recap! I wanted to see this, because I am leaning toward Joe and wanted to hear more. This was helpful. I agree that we will only win in Nov if we nominate someone who can clearly distinguish themselves from the R candidate. Looks like Joe's commitment to progressive values will give us that distinction.