2020 Leg. Candidate Questionnaire: John Kane, 9th Senatorial District

John Kane

Editor’s Note: As has been our tradition, The Times sent our its annual questionnaire to all Chester County legislative candidates, via their respective party. We publish these responses entirely unedited and unfiltered to give readers an honest assessment of the candidates and their positions. They will be published as candidates return them to us.

1. Although there are many major challenges facing Pennsylvania, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is currently front and center. There is stark disagreement in the current legislature on Gov. Tom Wolf’s handling of the Pandemic. What, if anything, would you do differently and why?

I would be a partner to Governor Wolf in using science to guide our approach to reopening and I would put the health and safety of my constituents above any partisan allegiances. My opponent and Republicans in Harrisburg have NEVER been serious about addressing this pandemic. Instead, they chose to fight the Governor tooth and nail on every single one of his proposals to keep us safe simply because the Governor is a Democrat. Their behavior has been reckless and put lives at risk.

2. Although Pennsylvania was facing a fiscal shortfall before the pandemic, now it is expected to range between $3 and $5B. How would you close that budget gap? Cuts, taxes? Be specific, what programs/funding would you cut or what taxes would you raise (or work to create new revenue streams)?

It boggles the mind to learn that Pennsylvania is the largest natural gas producing state in the country without a severance tax. Our state loses hundreds of millions of dollars a year in revenue because Republican leadership do not want to tax their campaign contributors. We must enact a severance tax. We must also finally act on making corporations pay their fair share of taxes. Under Republican control, the state legislature has continuously given tax credits to large corporations that refuse to pay their workers a living wage, which has exacerbated the problem.

3. Public school funding and property taxes continue to be a concern in Pennsylvania — state funding of public schools as a percentage of budget continues to slide, a trend that is more than 30 years old. With litigation for fair funding in process, how would you change how the state funds its public schools.

We need fair funding and we need it now. For too long, Republicans have gutted public education funding at the state level, and claim they cut taxes. However, this gap in funding from the State has to be made up somewhere, and comes in the form of local property tax hikes. In my opponent’s time in office, local property taxes have increased by 19% and 24% in Delaware and Chester counties, respectively, to cover this gap. I will passionately fight for more funding for our public schools so that our future leaders, workers, and business owners get the right start at an early age.

4. Following on, Pennsylvania is 47th by some measures in funding higher education — many other state schools charge less for out of state students than Pa. schools charge for in state students. Is the state underfunding our higher education institutions?

Yes. And no one can make an argument to the contrary. Public school and higher education funding is one of the main reasons our state is becoming older and younger people are moving out of state. It simply costs too much. State funding allows our residents to study at the best schools right here in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, my Republican opponent is part of this problem; he voted to gut public school and higher education funding to the tune of over one Billion dollars.

5. Gov. Tom Wolf and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman have come out strongly for legalization of marijuana for adults (and expunging records for those with possession convictions). Where do you stand on this issue?

I agree with both the Governor and Lt. Governor. Our state spends so much money locking up non violent offenders, upending families, and altering lives over a plant that is much more benign than alcohol. Legalization would regulate the substance and provide revenue to our state that can be spent on vital services and repairing our crumbling infrastructure.

6. Policing and its funding have been part of a national conversation of late. Should local municipalities be expected to pay more of the costs of State Police if they do not have local police? Additionally, does the state need to find a new funding mechanism for law enforcement funding, either locally or statewide.

We must seek long term solutions to budget gaps that don’t involve local municipalities raising local taxes. Republicans have chosen to make cuts at the state level, and pass the buck to local governments to do the dirty work. It’s our responsibility to make sure corporations pay their fair share of taxes, reducing the burden on working people.

7. Fracking and the Mariner East II pipeline are increasingly becoming controversial in Chester County. Has the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) properly supervised the pipeline construction? Also, where do you stand on fracking? Should it be halted in the state?

The Mariner East II pipeline has not been held to the highest safety standards and its construction has not been transparent. But that is because the DEP is completely hamstrung by Republican leadership’s refusal to address climate change as a fact. We need to give the DEP more authority to supervise the construction of the pipeline to keep our community safe.

As elected officials, it must be one of our top priorities to move to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2050. It is our responsibility to adopt measures that make investments in Green energy and understand that we cannot make that change overnight.

8. What changes, if any, do you support in terms of gun safety in Pennsylvania?

We need universal background checks at every point of sale, to ban assault weapons and institute a voluntary buyback program, and Gun Violence Restraining Orders which allow family and friends to report individuals that may cause harm to

themselves or others. These are common sense solutions that an overwhelming majority of Americans and Pennsylvanians agree with.

9. With the nomination and likely confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the US Supreme Court, it is possible that Roe v. Wade, the ruling that legalized abortion in the U.S., will be overturned, returning the issue to the states. Where do you stand and how would you vote if there was a bill banning abortion in Pennsylvania?

I am 100% pro-choice, and proudly endorsed by Planned Parenthood and Pennsylvania’s National Organization for Women. I will always stand up for a woman’s right to choose. My opponent, however, is starkly opposed to women’s rights. Tom Killion opposes a woman’s right to choose, even in cases of rape or incest. And he was an original supporter of the “Ultrasound Bill,” which forced women seeking an abortion to view an ultrasound although it served no medical purpose.

10. Are Pennsylvania’s protections for the LGBTQ community adequate? If not, what would you change?

No, they are not adequate. We need to take up the hate law legislation that has been introduced in multiple sessions but has not yet made it out of committee. It is long overdue to extend these protections to all people, regardless of their sexual orientation.

11. Is there an issue in Pennsylvania you feel does not get enough attention that you plan to highlight if elected?

Here’s a constant reminder that workers haven’t received a raise in PA since 2006. While at the same time, compensation for the richest 1% has skyrocketed. This is not a sustainable model. We need to do more to stand up for working families, and I’m proud to be their champion.

12. Getting personal, can you tell us something about yourself that might surprise people (ie, unusual hobby or pet, brush with fame, etc.)?

Two things that I’m incredibly proud of are that I just celebrated 37 years of sobriety on October 3, 2020 and celebrated 5 years cancer-free on May 5, 2020. Both of these experiences have shaped me into the person I am today. Sobriety taught me the value of second chances and to never judge a book by its cover. And my battle with cancer re-energized my passion to fight for other people. It was only because of the incredible doctors and hospital staff that I’m here today. The only reason my family isn’t bankrupt is because of the outstanding healthcare provided by my union. Many other people in similar situations do not get the care they deserve or have the ability to care they need.

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