PA governor debate Tom Wolf Scott Wagner 10-1-18

Republican challenger Scott Wagner, right, answers a question as Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf looks on during Monday's Pennsylvania gubernatorial debate in Hershey.

ALEX TREBEK: Now when I was asked by the chamber if I would come here and be the moderator for this event, I was not drunk. I accepted immediately. Didn’t give it a second thought. What on earth was I thinking? My gosh. Obviously I'm not as bright as some of you people in the audience think I am. This is not a game show tonight. This is serious stuff and I can't begin to tell you how much agony and stress I have experienced over these many months because I accepted that invitation. The evening’s not about me. But I've spent four decades hosting TV competitions with impartiality. And what I was very afraid of was that some of you would leave here tonight and say, “Well, our guy didn't do too well. But it was only because Trebek was so biased against him.” I didn't want that to happen. So yes, I am very nervous. But I accepted, and I accepted on the condition that I would get to do, do it my way. Now that doesn't mean we're going to have a Jeopardy type quiz up here. I'm not here to embarrass the candidates. They are perfectly capable of doing that all by themselves. But I wanted to do it in a different way. I'm not a big fan of the traditional debate formats, where the candidates stand at a lectern and the moderator asks a question and the candidate has 90 seconds to respond and then the opponent has 30 seconds in rebuttal. I wanted to approach it very differently, and I'll tell you why. By a show of hands in the audience right now, how many of you know pretty well where these two candidates stand on all of the issues and have pretty much made up your mind as to how you're going to vote next month? … That's what I thought.

And that's why I didn't want to do the traditional debate format, because we really wouldn't learn that much that was new. So I decided we're going to have a conversation where I can ask questions, I can prod or I can challenge the candidates and who knows, maybe we will discover something new about their personalities their character that we didn't know beforehand. And thankfully both gentlemen agreed. There's only one rule that applies to what's about to take place, and it is a rule that I will strictly enforce. I will not tolerate any booing or hissing not even if you direct it at the candidates. Okay, so let's get it done. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the Republican candidate for governor Scott Wagner, and the Democratic candidate Governor Tom Wolf. … Please be seated, gentlemen. … Mr. Wagner, you won the toss. So you get to make the first opening statement, please

SCOTT WAGNER: Is the prize four and a half million dollars possibly?

TREBEK: No, Brad Rutter, and Brad will be coming back this year to compete for even more money in the Jeopardy All Stars. But go ahead.

WAGNER: Thank you. Good evening, everyone. It's great to be here tonight. Listen, I never thought five and a half years ago I’d ever be doing this standing on the stage in front of all of you. But you know, life has its twists and turns of Tracy my lovely wife is with me tonight. We never thought we'd be doing this. But you know what, as a business person growing up on a farm working hard building my businesses discovering how difficult it was to operate a business and create jobs in Pennsylvania, I made a decision run for the State Senate in 2014 and I served in the State Senate for four years and left this past January to pursue this path. When I went to Harrisburg, my expectation of Harrisburg was that it needed help and it needed guidance and it needed leadership. And it was very apparent quickly on that we do not have that leadership in place. So I made a decision to run for this office to be the next governor of Pennsylvania. I grew up on a farm. I'm a blue collar guy, but governor had a very different upbringing and a very different lifestyle than I. So we'll talk about the issues tonight but I'm honored to be here and be in front of all of you and talk about what's really going on in Pennsylvania. Tonight is about the people of Pennsylvania. Those are the people that we have to believe, we serve and we need to help make their lives better. Thank you

TREBEK: Governor

TOM WOLF: Thank you Alex. Thank you for moderating this, and I want to thank the chamber team and the chamber for hosting this. And Scott, thank you for for running. That's what happens in a democracy, and I appreciate that you're doing this. This is really a referendum on where we were and where we want to be and where we want to go. And when I got to Harrisburg as governor, I've been in politics now for three years and eight months, about three and a half years. And when I got the Harrisburg, we were not investing in education. Since I've been governor we've invested historic amounts in education. We've invested in health care. We have almost three quarters of a million people who now have health insurance who didn't have it just three years ago, and we're doing something to address the terrible opioid epidemic that's facing Pennsylvania. But I've done this in a financially responsible way. Balanced the budget. I put made a deposit in the rainy day fund for the first time in over a decade back in July. And I'm doing it with ethics and integrity. I don't take my salary. I actually pay my own way on state business. We have a gift ban in the executive branch. I am doing these things because I think public service is something different than anything else we do. And so this election is about that. Do we want to continue on this path, do we want to continue doing the same thing we've been doing for the last three and a half years. I'm hoping that I get the privilege of serving for another four years so that I can keep moving Pennsylvania forward. Thank you very much.

TREBEK: Sounds like you two are in competition for the civility award next year. Governor you've got the job. So I'm going to direct the first question at you I sense there's a certain amount of tension in this hall right now. So let's see if we can break it. Early this year, shortly after the Super Bowl, you got a pretty positive reaction from the audience. When you after the words fly Eagles fly. And that started me thinking. So please, sir, tell me the name of the starting defensive lineman for the Eagles who has won two consecutive Super Bowls, each one with a different team.

WOLF: I guess you’re going to want me to put that in the form of a question?

TREBEK: right now. Right now there are people in this room who are sitting there saying what on earth is going on here. You and Mr. Wagner have come here tonight to talk about politics and policies and here comes Trebek straight out of left field with a question about football. That was unfair and I understand that. I don't like ambush journalism, but I did it for a reason. And the reason is that a very famous Californian filmmaker once who had put together some very nasty films about a politician running for office in the California gubernatorial election, and when he was taken to task for that he said. Back off. In politics, nothing is unfair. So I'd like to hear your thoughts on that statement

WOLF: Yeah I disagree with it. I think the things have to be fair in politics and I think we heard from the President of Allegheny college, one of the issues and one of the challenges we have in our democracy is that we have to make it civil. We have to make it attractive for people to want to come in and exchange ideas and not feel they're going to get blasted for doing it. Politics has to be, especially in a democracy, we have to make it civil. We have to make it the kind of enterprise that people want to get involved in. The kids at Allegheny College are not different from the kids anywhere else. They look at politics as we are right now and say why do I want to get involved. I think the way we have to do this is look at this like a Venn diagram. There are two circles, there're two different people to different sets of ideas, but there's an overlap. And it's our choice as to whether we choose to focus on the things that distinguish us or the things that that bring us together where we might find some compromise and some agreement.

TREBEK: Well, has money become a corrupting influence in our political campaigns?

WOLF: I think it has. I think, it's why I'm calling for campaign finance reform in Pennsylvania. I think that's really important. We need to to neutralize the impact of money so that we can actually get back to challenging each other's ideas/

TREBEK: but I think these people all know that you've raised a tremendous amount of money for your campaign. Mr. Wagner. You came through a very rough primary earlier this year. You were called sleazy deadbeat dad. A piece of legislation you had co sponsored was misrepresented by one of your opponents. At one point to your daughter came out in public to defend you. Has politics become too much of a blood sport

WAGNER: Absolutely, it's it's become disgusting. Listen, I came to Harrisburg in 2014. People Governor Wolf’s campaign, their communications director called me the worst of Harrisburg, I came to Harrisburg to ask questions and I don't get answers. So I drill down. I want to continue to get answers. The people of Pennsylvania are not being served and the ugliness of politics has gotten off the charts. You know, Governor Wolf talks about reforming the political system. Well Governor Wolf takes a million dollars from this entity, mainly all you know government unions. He took $1.2 million from pharmacy PAC in Philadelphia, but then turned around and vetoed a piece of legislation that continued to allow to allow opioids to be dispensed when we have a heroin opioid crisis. I mean, Governor Wolf’s taken over $10 million from special interest one union specifically $1.9 million. I'm out getting checks at $25 $10 $50 $100. I don't have, I’ve been labeled as, that I'm owned by special interests and I'm an insider. Trust me, I’m far from an insider. It has become but the people of Pennsylvania deserve to be served and they're not being served. And the system, I'd say the system is pretty corrupt.

TREBEK: Yeah, but you have bought into the system to a certain extent, there's been a great deal of trash talking back and forth between both of you. You've called him a liar. He's called you a liar. You’ve called him gutless. Here's a question for each of you. It's a yes or no question. Have you ever said anything negative about your opponent that you knew was not true,


TREBEK: Governor?

WOLF: Not that I remember, no. [laughter] I think, if I could. I think we have to recognize that we do have different points of view. For example, on the bill that Scott just talked about. I didn't want politicians to interfere with the doctor patient relationship, especially knowing that some of the people, some of the patients who have been affected the most were police and firemen. And those are the folks who get the worst injuries. Those are the folks who really need the doctor to make decisions for them. Not some blanket ideas to how someone should be treated. And so I vetoed that.

TREBEK: You’re talking now about the Pond-Lehocky.

WOLF: Yes. So my Department of Labor and Industry has to the extent we were looking at how we can make our system work better to fight the opioid epidemic. I made sure that in workers comp cases, anybody prescribing an opioid had to look at the prescription drug database to make sure they were not encouraging addictive behavior. I tried to do, I'm trying to do the best thing, which is why I say I'm not taking a salary. I'm trying to do what I'm doing, because I think this is right. I've been in politics, as I said three years and eight months now. I came out of a business background. I owned a business and built a business headquartered in York County, Pennsylvania, but a national company. And I tried to do the right thing and I think in politics, you will get people each trying to do the right thing, but have very different ideas as to what that right thing is. So I think we're both telling the truth here. We actually didn't say, have not said things that we think are unfair or untrue, but we certainly disagree.

TREBEK: Yeah, but you have to realize that if we, and when I say we, I mean all of the voters in the state, were to believe everything you've said about each other, we'd have trouble voting for either one of you. We’d go into the voting booth and we'd say, Oh, my God. Where's the line that says if none of the above, write in the name of your candidate here. So if you don't raise the level of discourse, the people have to make a choice, and they don't want to choose between the lesser of two evils. They both know you guys are not evil, you have the best interests of the state at heart. But even if they don't vote for you, after the election they want to have a respect for you. Because I'm sure you've discovered in your four years in office as governor--

WOLF: Three years and eight months.

TREBEK: Okay, three years and eight months.

WOLF: But who’s counting.

TREBEK: Governor makes a good point there. Believe me, ladies and gentlemen. There are going to be fact-checkers watching this televised event tonight. And if we say, and by that I mean all three of us, if we say anything that isn't right, you're going to read about it in the newspapers tomorrow or hear about it on TV. … Now, Mr. Wagner, you’re the challenger so you're on offense most of the time. You have to score points and you do that through sound bites and you get excited. You've said yourself that sometimes, before you speak, you should take a pill or two. And you are given, some of your followers, your supporters, think that you're daring, you're different, you're exciting. His supporters think no, he's excitable. You deal in hyperbole and exaggeration. There are a couple of things that I noticed that I'd like to question you about. On the premise that all politics is local. When the campaign began you immediately began asking for a town hall meeting or a mini debate in each of the 67 counties in the state of Pennsylvania. Now let's -- wait a minute -- let's get serious about this. You knew that was not going to happen. Now were you just having fun, or were you're trying to stick it to him to put him on defense.

WAGNER: Now I'd like to challenge you on that. Last Friday evening, this would be an event, whether it's a meeting or event or something that goes on my schedule, this year in 2018 for Thursday evening I cracked event 600 this year. Last year I did 380. I've been to all 67 counties. I was in a county the other evening, I was told that I've been there seven times since the beginning of my campaign. No the people of Pennsylvania want to hear from the governor. They want to talk about issues and there are a lot of issues. The people, the mothers and fathers that have had a loved one die of heroin or opioid addiction, they want to talk to the governor. They want to talk to somebody. They don't want to talk to a staff member. So you know, no, I'm sorry, it wasn't a game and it wasn't to be funny. And I will crack 850 events, and my running mate Jeff Bartos who's running for lieutenant governor is in another county tonight, and he will do probably 300 events. We're serious about this.

TREBEK: But when you asked for that, there were 132 days left before election day. So that would have meant a debate with the governor every two days on average. So you had to coordinate two campaigns.

WAGNER: We could have done one hour town hall meetings. Listen, the governor's traveling around the state right now, he's handing out checks and we're tracking his airplane. We know where he is every day. I mean, come on. I mean, the governor can do this, we know what’s going on. But at the end of the day, we could have done this. An hour, an hour and a half. We could have done it.


WAGNER: Would have taken some effort? Absolutely.

WOLF: Maybe I could just say that in a democracy, we have five and a half months of this campaign and there's a lot of opportunity to make sure that our voices are heard. I have had 80 events, just on the opioid epidemic and the opioid crisis since I've been governor, so I have been also in every county in Pennsylvania, many of them many, many times and I think the issue I think that Scott has is not that people aren't listening. I think this is a way, this five and a half months, people are listening to both sides, they're drawing their conclusions, they’re understanding the contrast. I think people are listening. They don't like what they're hearing from you. but they are listening.

TREBEK: The second point for you, Mr. Wagner that I wanted to bring up. You and the governor disagree on capital punishment. He imposed a moratorium on the death penalty, on executions in Pennsylvania, and executions haven't taken taken place here, I believe in 20 years. You are in favor of the death penalty, and in fact, you went even further this year, did you not.

WAGNER: I did. And I know the first person I’ll sign the death warrant. This man killed his brother and killed three innocent women, one York County. He doesn't deserve to live, he’s been sitting on death row for 20 years. There was an assassin. His name was Eric Fein. He assassinated a state trooper in Pike County in September of 2014. He will sit on death row for many, many years. He assassinated a trooper just like he would shoot a groundhog, and he talked about the satisfaction that he got out of taking that troopers life, and then he wounded another trooper. This man is going to allow that person to stay on death row, and the family, the wife of that slain trooper and the two sons will never see justice.

TREBEK: So when I say you went further you were calling for a mandatory death penalty for people who kill students or adults on school property.

WAGNER: Absolutely. I'm going to stand up for innocent people. To think that the teachers and students can be in a school and be executed and killed senselessly. No, you need somebody, that's going to stand up.

TREBEK: Okay. Well, I have two problems with that. Your, I'm sure have influenced by the Parkland shooting in Florida where 14 students and three teachers were killed. Am I correct is that what--?

WAGNER: This has been going on for listen, we've seen many incidents

TREBEK: Alright, but six months before Parkland, less than 200 miles away, a man walked into a gay nightclub in Orlando and killed 49 people. Six months after Parkland, another lunatic in Las Vegas shot up an outdoor concert killed 58 people,

WAGNER: They should get, they should get death

TREBEK: Yeah, but you didn't call for that at the time. You said you're restricted it to school shootings. Now justice has to be applied equally. So that's one of my concerns. The other concern. I'm not an attorney, but I know that in 1976 in the Supreme Court, Woodson v. North Carolina, the Supreme Court declared mandatory death sentences to be illegal. They left a little loophole in there for murders that are committed by inmates in prisons, but they closed that in 1987. So that's set law, isn't it? You have mentioned that you're going to put forward legislation to change all of that. It's not going to go anywhere, is it?

WAGNER: Alex, a life is a life, and someone needs to stand up for someone who has lost a loved one, and the victim. And that's what I intend to do. And you are very right about the nightclub. You're very right about Las Vegas. But you know what we're going to get tough in the state. Our law enforcement people that are on the front lines every single day are not being backed up by this governor. They can leave the house and the sense that somebody could be sitting in a patrol car drinking coffee and be executed in their car, and they're gone. But meanwhile, there's nobody standing up for them and that person who does that, commits a crime and takes that life should pay the ultimate

WOLF: Let me just point out that I think the people who created, who committed those crimes should rot in prison and be punished severely. There is a, there was a senate bipartisan commission looking at what we should do with the death penalty. And their recommendation was the Pennsylvania should continue with the moratorium. So I'm continuing to do what that bipartisan commission said we had to do. Punishment is absolutely essential and called for for the crimes that were committed there and I think these people should run present.

TREBEK: Now, Mr. Wagner mentioned a few moments ago a line that has been used. It was first used to my recollection the morning after he won the primary. One of your PACs came out and accused him of being the worst of Harrisburg. Your spokespeople have used that phrase many times. Last night, my wife and I were watching TV in the room and there was an ad that again called him the worst of Harrisburg. And you yourself in a conversation with the distinguished political writer for The Philadelphia Inquirer, John Baer, confirmed the validity of that statement. So in three and a half years in the Senate, how did this man become the worst of Harrisburg? What did he do?

WOLF: I think maybe in some cases we agree with this, that we need to have a Harrisburg, a government in Harrisburg that actually the people of Pennsylvania trust. We serve the people of Pennsylvania, and this democracy is best served by people who can be trusted. So I think, and I have tried to live this, that in public service we cannot do things that we might do in the private sector. We have to do things in a more transparent and open way. For example, sharing tax returns. We have to do things that actually make people feel, yes this is a democracy that has legitimacy in my mind. And we cannot have folks who I think routinely trash that, and I think Scott was the kind of person that I do not think democracy really should have at its heart.

TREBEK: Driving up from Philadelphia yesterday, I noticed a billboard for you, Scott Wagner for governor. The man greedy politicians fear the most. Now you have said in the past that you are willing to go into the legislature with a baseball bat and get these people to shape up. When you talk about greeting politicians, are you referring to them or to him?

WAGNER: System.

TREBEK: The system?

WAGNER: It's the system, Alex. Listen, I came to Harrisburg in 2014 and I finished out Governor Corbett’s term. Governor Wolf came in in 2015. I was appointed to serve on Appropriations Committee, other committees. I sat through the first year of an incredible budget year. I asked a lot of questions. I didn't get answers. So I went to our leadership and I said we need to start drilling down, we need to start asking due diligence questions like we're buying a business. Come up with a list of questions. We had a budget impasse for nine months in the 2015-16 year. That impasse should have never happened, OK. Governor Wolf chose chose to veto the budget. Hardships were imposed on nonprofits school districts counties. Virtually every nonprofit organization lost their EITC credits in December of 2015. I started asking questions. I started drilling down. Because I asked questions, I'm a bad guy. But I want to know the answer. I can tell you right now if you do business with a bank and you have some issues going on in your business, you've better get ‘em answers or they’ll shut you down.

WOLF: That's disingenuous. I mean if you look at where we have come from that point to where we are now. In June of this past year we passed a budget on time.

WAGNER: It was a re-election year

TREBEK: In all fairness, Scott, that applies to the members of the legislature also. Not just to the governor.

WAGNER: They're up for reelection, too

TREBEK: yeah they they took July and August off. Last year they sat for 76 days. This year, the legislature is going to sit for 51 days

WOLF: And I understand Scott's frustration. If you look at where we were back when we both, actually you came a little earlier than I did to Harrisburg, things are in a much different place right now. We did get a budget of passed on time. We do have a surplus. We do have a deposit that has been made for the first time in over a decade into the rainy day fund. We do have ethical behavior, at least in the executive branch. Things are different now than they were. And it has been a long haul. And I think that's the key. Things are different now than they they were when you and I started in and I think Pennsylvania so much better place. The trajectory is is right. I want to continue that path.

TREBEK: All right, let's pick on somebody else. A few years ago I did some work down in Lansdale. We wrapped early in the day and I thought I'd take advantage of the time that I had to spare to drive down to Wilmington and visit some acquaintances there. And because I have this weird sense of humor, it occurred to me that if I were to drive in pretty much of a straight Southwesterly direction I wouldn be going into and coming out of District seven a half dozen times. Okay. Now, we all know that district seven at that time was the poster child for gerrymandering not only in Pennsylvania, but in the entire United States. So Mr. Wagner, you weren't in the legislature when those lines were drawn, so I'm not going to try to blame you and I'm not going to try to praise you. But tell me, do you think that those districts as they were set up was an example of fair play by the legislature.

WAGNER: I wasn't here at the time, but I watched--

TREBEK: I’m asking you for your opinion.

WAGNER: Well, I watched what happened just, this, in the last year with redrawing of the maps. It was all political process. It was, this governor chose, Governor Wolf chose to take the redistricting on his own. He gave it to the to the state Supreme Court. We had a supreme court justice that campaigned on if you elect me, I guarantee you, I'll redraw the maps. It was amazing what took place [crosstalk] I personally think was corruption at its best.

TREBEK: Well didn't the lawsuit take place before it came to you for a veto. Because, as I understand it the Supreme Court, send it back to the legislature, they did some redistricting, and then you vetoed that and then the Supreme Court came back in. Is that not correct?

WOLF: That’s the way it happened.

WAGNER: Well, we could have -- here’s the issue. We should have, the legislature should have been part of that process and not the state Supreme Court. And that's not what happened.

WOLF: But it was, it did go to the legislature, Scott

WAGNER: It did, and then it went to the state Supreme Court, but--

WOLF: It went to the legislature first.

WAGNER: It did, and it wasn't, but it wasn't good enough. So you chose to kick it up.

WOLF: That’s the way the system worked, right? I mean that’s how it works.

WAGNER: Well okay. Well, if that's, if that's your opinion, that’s your opinion.

TREBEK: Don't you think the republicans are partly to blame for all of that? Because they were kind of asleep at the wheel in the last election, and they allow Doc Dougherty and his union members to get the democratic vote out and they elected three supreme court justices, and that made it possible for the Supreme Court to get involved. Am I correct in this?

WAGNER: Listen, I'm not going to -- absolutely the republicans were not asleep at the switch. The difference between what Governor Wolf and his party have, they have tremendous amount of union resources at their disposal. Kevin Dougherty’s own brother almost single handedly financed his brother’s campaign out of dues from electrical workers out of Philadelphia.

WOLF: The truth is that when I got the map from from the Senate, I vetoed it, and I engaged the services of a mathematician from Tufts University to try to create a fair map. It wasn't my job to create that map, it was the job if we disagreed, for the Supreme Court. That's the way the system in Pennsylvania works. But I thought we at least, I at least should make the case that we ought to have a fair map. And so I did that, and the map that I suggested was fair. It was not the map that the Supreme Court picked. But, in my view, and the mathematicians view, the map that the Supreme Court picked was in fact a fair, objective map

TREBEK: Now do you agree? Is the current map a fair map, yes or no.

WAGNER: The current map, it's a disaster. Listen, people don't know who they're voting for right now. This, it's a disaster out on the landscape.

TREBEK: Hey, the people will adjust.

WAGNER: They'll adjust.

TREBEK: The reports I have seen about the current districts, is that, hey, it will favor the Republicans a little bit, but it's fairer than it used to be. Now you've got 800,000 more Democrats in the state of Pennsylvania then Republicans. But under the old map you had 13 republicans go to Congress and five democrats, and I might add, no women. However, I'm happy to report that that's going to change this year thanks to District Five where we have two women running. So, yeah. Now whoever gets to be governor, or is governor after this election is going to be an office for the next redistricting, and Pennsylvania is going to lose one seat in Congress because of demographics. So you're going to go through the same thing again and you're still going to have to deal with a Supreme Court that has five Democrats and two Republicans. Let’s see if we can find some areas of agreement. There, 72% of the people in the state of Pennsylvania want changes in the way the government works and is set up. 70% of them want redistricting legislation. There was a proposal for a redistricting commission of 11 members. It got 607 amendments attached to it. Now it seems to me that the legislature is trying to live up to its reputation as the place where good bills go to die. The last time I looked, the approval rating for the legislature was at 14%. The only thing with a lower rating in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is the Catholic Church.

Now don't go there I was, I was born and raised Catholic and I'm just as ticked off as everybody else is over what has happened with the church. However, having said that, I would add this if I may. When I was a young teenager, I attended a Catholic boarding school run by the oblates of Mary Immaculate. 250 students other boys and I spent three years sharing the same accommodations 24/7 with 44 priests, and not once in those three years was there any sexual misbehavior. Now boys are pretty sharp. We talk. We would have known. Okay, so I believe that there are Catholic priests out there who are able to minister to their congregations without preying, and that's P-R-E-Y, on the young people. Okay. And as you Pennsylvanians know full well it doesn't only happen in the Catholic Church. It happens in politics. It happens in college sports. It happens in show business. So enough about that. Let's get back to the legislature. California this year, became the fifth largest economy in the world. We're home to

WOLF: You weren't, I don't think you quite finished on the redistricting

TREBEK: Oh yes

WOLF: Okay. Alright.

TREBEK: There are other ways of dealing with the legislature. California, the fifth largest economy in the world. We have an annual budget that is six times that of Pennsylvania. I believe we have 39 million people. We have 40 senators and 80 members of the assembly. We have one legislator for every 325,000 citizens. Pennsylvania 13 million, 253 legislators, one for every 52,000. I think you two are in agreement about reducing the size of the legislature. You voted for that, right? [Wagner nods] And are you in favor of that?


TREBEK: You're not. Okay.

WOLF: I think we need to reform our legislative system. We need to do a better job. We need to make it more responsive. I'm concerned that one route to do that, not to do that, is to reduce the number of elected officials. I think you're just gonna -- if you don't change the character of the place, if you don't change the responsiveness of the place and you don't focus on those things, simply using that as a convenient means to get to the ends that you want, I don't think you're going to achieve those those ends.

TREBEK: What about closed primaries? it occurred to me that if I were a resident of the state of Pennsylvania, because I'm an independent, I could not vote in the primaries. Now are you in favor of open primaries?

WOLF: I am

TREBEK: Mr. Wagner?


TREBEK: You're in favor of open primaries also. Now the president pro tem of the senate has been advocating for open primaries also, but for a different reason. He has noticed that extremists in both parties are squeezing out some of the old-time politicians. Now there are, how many, 800,000 independents in Pennsylvania and they tend to be more moderate. Now Mr. Wagner, you said you agreed that open primaries are a good thing. You have to be careful what you wish for. Because if there had been open primaries in this last go round maybe the governor and I would be sitting up here with Lauren Ellsworth tonight, because she was a more moderate person. So you have to be very careful about that. Now what about reducing the term for legislators? You have somebody in the house, who's been there since ‘76 somebody in the senate who's been there since ‘79. If you get more turnover, aren't you likely to find more people who are not as entrenched in their ideologies? Governor?

WOLF: Yeah, actually, in the 19th century in places, legislatures like the US House of Representatives we had higher turnover rates, and one of the reasons for the higher turnover rates was, I think, more competitive elections. And I think the gerrymandering has been the problem, is what caused the lack of competitiveness in our elections. If we had more competitiveness in our state senate and house election. I think we'd have higher turnover.

TREBEK: Okay, let's move on to business and taxes, because that's one of the high points of your campaign, Mr. Wagner. From all I've been able to gather, even though Pittsburgh and Philadelphia were among the 20 top cities contending for the new headquarters for Amazon. It doesn't look like either one is going to be a winner. Even though, from what I hear, Philadelphia, put forth a very solid presentation. How do you view all of that, where if it works out that way, where did they go wrong?

WAGNER: Here's here's our situation in Pennsylvania. We have between 200 [thousand] and 400,000 skilled labor positions open in Pennsylvania. We have 975,000 businesses. If each business, if we just cut that in half to 500,000 businesses, and each business hired one person, I have no idea where they find the business -- where they’d find the employees. I have, I appreciate you know the attraction to bring Amazon to Pennsylvania. We chased the Foxconn deal and that would have gotten very rich. As a matter of fact, it cost Wisconsin, I believe, you know several billion dollars to locate them there. How about if we try something new. How about if we start treating the businesses that are here like customers and start being more business friendly, roll back some regulation. [applause] and let us grow our businesses. There are again 200 [thousand] to 400,000 skilled labor positions open. We can’t find the people for those positions right now. So, you know, Governor Wolf has actually been, he's been part of the cause of that

TREBEK: Well you've mentioned that there are 155,000 pages of regulations that are preventing businesses from succeeding. Is he responsible for those 155,000 pages? If he is, he was a busy governor for three years and eight months

WAGNER: Listen, where we are has been the creation of 30 years. There are House and Senate members that go to Harrisburg, and they are proud of the fact they introduced 15, 20, 30 bills. But they don't go anywhere. We have to start rolling -- I didn’t go to Harrisburg to introduce bills. I went to Harrisburg to roll back regulations. There are 208 regulations on the design and operation and safety and use of ladders. I mean, the ladder we're going up, there's 208 regulations probably on the books there that affect that.

TREBEK: But why are those wireless regulations in place, governor? Why are they--?

WOLF: In general, well, you don't want someone dumping stuff that you're going to have to drink in your drinking water upstream from where you take your water out of the river. So regulation and response for regulation makes sense. That's one of the things that government, a responsible government, is supposed to do. One of the other things is to make sure that we are creating enough training opportunities for people to take the jobs that Scott just talked about. One of the things that the chamber has been an amazing partner -- I mean Gene Barr was co-chair of our Middle Class Task Force -- they made recommendations on what we can do about that. The state in the past, this last budget, has appropriated tens of millions of dollars to actually create career and technical education, more STEM education. We're doing a lot of things to actually create the training and the skills that that 21st century economy really needs. These are the things that government should be doing and I appreciate the partnership of the chamber in actually getting that done.

TREBEK: All right, you've led us into another important subject, education. I'm sure you both agree that the education we provide today is the economy of tomorrow. And an educated society is a more prosperous society. You have less crime, less poverty, better health care. So let's talk about that. The largest share of state spending is for education. Now, Mr. Wagner, I'm going to put you on the defensive for a few moments. In 2015, you said the state spends enough on public schools, you can lay off 10 percent of the teachers and they won't be missed. Then you took a reporter on a helicopter flight over York County to show how well some of the schools were doing. They had pools and tennis courts, modern buildings. Then you criticized Governor Wolf, saying he wanted to raise taxes so he could put a billion dollars more into public education. You said we don't need it. The problem is mismanagement of school funds by the Wolf Government. Then you said, the problem was that most of the funding was being used for pensions and not making its way into the classrooms. Then you revealed your education plan, and that called for an injection of a billion dollars into education without raising taxes. Now it seems to me that you have done a full 180. You started by saying they don't need any extra money, and now I'm going to put a billion dollars into education. You want to explain?

WAGNER: Here’s a fact. Yes. Here's a fact, the governor did not put any money in education in the first three years of his administration because he didn't sign a budget. The legislature did that. Only this year did the governor put money in education. If you don't sign a budget, the money's not going there. But here's a fact, approximately $2 billion went into the education system in the last four years. The Philadelphia Inquirer did a story, probably in the last month, that $1.3 billion of that two went to pensions. We have a pension crisis. We could have solved that pension crisis. First year in office the House and Senate sent a comprehensive pension bill to the governor and he vetoed it. Because, the government employee unions didn't want the change

TREBEK: But hasn't he made some pension reforms, which you have voted against?

WAGNER: Listen, at the end of the day, and I don't want to offend my colleagues, it doesn't do anything. It’s just, what are we talking like 20 million or whatever? Asl people in the financial world. It didn't do any heavy lifting. We need to go into a 401(k) program for new hires after a specific date. We have $70 billion pension crisis

WOLF: We did that.

TREBEK: But you can’t get rid of that unfunded pension overnight. It's going to take time.

WAGNER: This is a massive problem. And listen, at the end of the day, but meanwhile in 2016 in one of our pension funds, we accepted a return of 1.29%, when the benchmark goal was seven and a half percent. And we overpaid money managers, according to the treasurer, five and a half billion over the last 10 years. See nobody wants to do any heavy lifting. And that's what we need to start doing

WOLF: There’s a lot of --

WAGNER: This governor is not willing to do that

WOLF: There’s a lot of protesting here. Actually, there is a bipartisan effort to do something about management fees. Not sure you've been very supportive of that. We actually had a pension reform bill that both the Wall Street Journal editorial page in the Washington Post editorial page thought was really good. We do have an unfunded pension liability issue and we've got to do something about that. But we are here in Pennsylvania doing something that most states are not, and that is addressing the pension issue in a bipartisan way.

TREBEK: well it's been my experience that almost every state in America has an unfunded pension liability problem. But let's talk about education.

WAGNER: While we just keep playing the violin for the next 10 years

TREBEK: But it's an obligation.

WAGNER: We need to do something now.

TREBEK: No, but it's an obligation and you have to recognize that and you have to satisfy that obligation.

WAGNER: Alex. I do recognize that, and we have to solve this problem. Listen, I have school teachers come to my office when I was in the senate, retired schoolteachers. “Please don't take our pensions away.” The government sector unions corrections officers, schoolteachers are all telling their members Wagner gets elected, he's going to take your pensions away. That's not true. I'm just to clean up guy, but I can tell you we can do better to accept 1.29%. Governor Wolf and you didn't do anything about it. You were in office in [crosstalk].

TREBEK: All right, let's talk about your your education plan, since that's what we were going to discuss. You were gonna put a billion dollars into education. Show me the money. Where's it coming from.

WAGNER: Well, that's interesting. I'm going to go to zero based budgeting. We're going to balance our checkbook in Harrisburg something we haven't done in 30 years. I presented a plan, along with Representative Seth Grove, to the governor in 2016. It was a taxpayer caucus report and we presented potential savings between three and $4 billion. We never heard from the governor’s staff, we never heard from the governor. We were just discounted as being like disruptors. You know what? We have to turn over every single rock in Harrisburg, and we need to start finding money and there's money out there.

TREBEK: Well, you have a structural deficit in this state. You guys balance the budget by drawing on one time elements.

WOLF: That's actually, that's not true. We actually have a balanced budget. There was a one time, big one time deposit in our budget last year because we had a lot of one time elements in that structural deficit. But we have a balanced budget at the end of last year, the end of the first quarter so far this year, I track the condition, the financial condition of the state on a daily basis and we're doing very well right now.

TREBEK: All right, but with with regard to education, Pennsylvania is not doing that well. I mean, 37% of the state funds go to K through 12 education. Most states are 10% above that. Some states over 50 percent

WOLF: You’re talking about the proportion of the funding that goes into education, state versus local?


WOLF: Yeah, you're right.

TREBEK: Yeah and for higher education. It's even worse, Pennsylvania ranks, what, fourth from the bottom of the 50 states. You guys have been short changing education in this state for decades. The money spent to educate the youth keeps going down and the expenses keep going up

WOLF: Let me -- I mean, can we do more for education?


WOLF: Absolutely. You're right. That's true. But are we doing more now than we were three years and eight months ago. The answer is yes, We have, I put a billion dollars back into education. We have a ways to go, but we are on the right track. So I think there are two things that we need to look at here. One is, you know, are we doing enough? Can we do more? And the answer, yes we can do more. But are we doing more now than we were just a few years ago? And the answer to that is also yes.

TREBEK: Well Mr. Wagner, you mentioned a few moments ago that he, by not signing the budgets, didn't put any money into education but you had proposed--

WOLF: Actually I'm sure what he’s [crosstalk] the constitution, a bill becomes enacted both by being signed or not by being vetoed.

TREBEK: You just leave it alone and --

WOLF: -- in 10 days --

TREBEK: It becomes law

WOLF: That's right

TREBEK: Now what you have not mentioned is that education in Pennsylvania suffered immensely about seven years ago when Governor Corbett knocked off a billion dollars and--

WAGNER: That's totally false. [audible booing]

TREBEK: Oh, it’s false?

WAGNER: That's totally false. Those were federal, those were federal stimulus dollars. Governor Wolf went around and told that, it was a lie. [applause] Governor Corbett, and the stimulus money came in during Governor Rendell’s administration. And so Governor Corbett’s here tonight, and people need to know that Governor Corbett did as much for education as really any governor. And he needs to be, he needs to be remembered for that. He didn't cut the billion dollars. It was a billion dollars of stimulus money that came in and we were told, they were told, the education system -- I wasn't there -- don't hire teachers, don't -- they did all that. Guess what, here's the problem with the system, Alex. The billion dollars it's gone. We have nothing to show for it. We talk about the education, and I appreciate your comments about the percentage of dollars. We have a swim coach at one of our state on universities that just retired getting a pension of $15,000 a month and he has paid up health care for the rest of his life. A great, great deal.

TREBEK: So there are some people who are abusing the system.

WAGNER: Well, there's a lot of people. There's a great story that just came out in the Philadelphia magazine about the DROP program where there are councilmen and women in the city of Philadelphia that can resign their position two days before the election, enjoy a 3 to $500,000 pension cash windfall and then get elected and get sworn in, and be back in the system.

TREBEK: Okay. We don't have much time left

WAGNER: So corruption has a lot to do with funding not getting where it’s supposed to go.

TREBEK: Aright, we only have about a minute ago. Only enough time to talk about one tax that you have been proposing I believe for the past three years and that is a severance tax on natural gas. Pennsylvania the only major producing state that does not have a severance tax Why haven't you been able to get that tax put into effect?

WOLF: We actually got it passed the Senate, two years ago and I'm not sure why it didn't get past the house. I will keep proposing it, and I will keep looking for people to support it. We are the only major natural gas producing state in the United States without a severance tax. Texas, Louisiana, Alaska, Oklahoma, they all have we one. We don’t.

TREBEK: Alright, so the severance tax would bring in a lot of money.


TREBEK: No, no, it would not? Who says no, it would not. You have the impact fee now, which has brought in a billion-two in the past seven years, and you're telling me that a 6% severance tax would not bring in money?

WOLF: First of all, I don't know anybody who's proposing

TREBEK: You’re not part of the debate. These two are

WOLF: I'm not sure any, I don't know who's proposing the 6% severance tax I’m not. The combination of severance and impact fee would actually be in line with what other states are charging on their severance tax and would bring hundreds of millions of dollars in to Pennsylvania for schools, for roads and bridges. Things that we actually need to make our lives better.

TREBEK: Before I get you two to make your closing statements. I would like to offer a suggestion to the people of Pennsylvania for this election. Forget that you’re Republicans or Democrats. We just had a few heated words about the severance tax. If you believe that severance tax wouldn't be beneficial would bring in hundreds of millions of dollars that would help with education and other problems in the state, then call up the people who are running in your districts, ask them a question, and say are you in favor of the severance tax or against it? If they're in favor, say, All right, I'm going to vote for you. If they happen to be from your party good from the other party vote for them. If you're against the severance tax, same deal, call them up and say are you for or against. If they're against, vote for them.

WAGNER: Alex, Alex there’s something you have to understand. We are the only state that has an impact fee. The governor doesn’t talk about that. So listen, there was a deal done in -- it was Act 13 of 2012. An impact fee was imposed. You talked about it

TREBEK: The impact fee used to be four and a half percent. It’s now down to 1.2% as he mentioned a few moments ago, you can combine the both, both of them or you can impose--

WAGNER: No, that’s not the deal. The deal is-- [crosstalk] The deal is, if you pass a severance tax, it's in the bill, and it was passed in voted and signed by the governor that the impact fee goes away. Last year the impact the generated 217 million dollars. To ask, listen, we're taxing the gas companies. Do the people believe that we should tax? Yes. Well we already are.

TREBEK: You're not taxing them that much because most of them are based in Texas or Oklahoma.

WAGNER: There’s a whole nother problem.

TREBEK: All right, we’re out of time. We're out of time. [loud booing]. What did I tell you guys at the beginning? No booing or hissing.

WOLF: I think they were booing you.

TREBEK: And now you're directing it at me. All right, governor, your closing remarks please.

WOLF: Again, Alex, thank you for moderating this. And I want to thank the chamber for actuall hosting this and organizing this event. And Scott, thank you for running. I think in a democracy, again, we need two candidates, at least to show the contrast and the two different visions that we have for Pennsylvania. My vision is really simple. It is that if you start from where I started three years and eight months ago, Pennsylvania was underfunding its schools. We need to do a better job. I have put a billion dollars into our schools. 720,000 Pennsylvanians have health care who didn't have health insurance just three and a half years ago. I have made Pennsylvania better in terms of focusing on the opioid epidemic, and I've done this in a fiscally responsible way. We have a balanced budget. We actually have put money into the rainy day fund for the first time in over a decade. And I'm doing it with integrity these things matter for our democracy, for our Commonwealth and for our future. And if I'm given the privilege of another four years, I will continue to move Pennsylvania on this path, on this trajectory to a better future. Thank you.


WAGNER: You know, we've had a great evening tonight. You know the people here at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center, the servers. Did you notice how they served 1,700 meals flawlessly. Did you notice that? Why am I telling you this? Because the kitchen’s working here, but it's not working in Harrisburg, okay. And if you think I'm kidding. Listen, I'm an operations guy. I know what it takes to put hundreds of trucks on the street every day. I know what it takes to have men and women leave when it's dark out. Our agencies in Harrisburg are not working. If I was going to write a book or produce a movie, it would be “Government Gone Wild.” Do you know what DEP stands for? Don't expect permits. That's what it stands for. [laughter and applause]. Listen, we can talk about gas taxes in Pennsylvania. We do have the highest gas tax in the nation. And you know what? I'm okay with that. But you know what, we shouldn't have more potholes than ever in the last four years. There's more trash along the highways. There's more bent up guide rails. Listen, if you do what I've been doing for the last year. Over 600 stops, talking to people in truck stops and and diners manufacturing plants coal mines natural gas drill sites. Go up to Elk County, to the beautiful Elk Visitor Center, visit the Lumberman’s Museum. Go around Pennsylvania and talk to the people of Pennsylvania. They have a completely different opinion of Governor Wolf. Things aren't working and it's about time and changes.

Listen, folks. I'm not trying to be politically correct and I don't need this job and I don't need the money. I have a great career. But I want to tell you something I've met some of the greatest people in Pennsylvania as I've traveled around. Farmers, for example, all, they they need someone who's going to fight for them and I pledge to the people of Pennsylvania, if you elect me as the next governor, I will get more done in the first six months than you've seen in the last 12 years because I have one other pledge--

TREBEK: Gotta wrap it up.

WAGNER: If I am elected governor. I have the stage. He's not taking it away from me. You know what. Here's my closing. Listen, when I'm elected governor, if I don't do anything in four years. I pledge to you that I will change my name to Tom Wolf.

TREBEK: Ladies and gentleman, on your behalf, I want to thank, I want to thank both candidates. And if I have managed to offend both sides. Then I have probably succeeded. And one final word, and that is the answer, the correct answer to the very first question I asked here this evening is, who is Chris Long. Thank you very much Dennis. Let’s hear it for the candidates. Have I upset both of you?

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