Muth chal­lenges Raf­ferty for state Se­nate seat

The Phoenix - - LOCAL NEWS - By Mar­ian Dennis mden­nis@21st-cen­tu­ry­media. com @Mar­i­anDen­nis1 on Twit­ter

Repub­li­can John Raf­ferty Jr. is seek­ing re-elec­tion for a fifth term in the Penn­syl­va­nia Se­nate. He is be­ing chal­lenged by Demo­cratic new­comer Katie Muth to rep­re­sent the 44th Se­nate District.

On a few is­sues, the op­po­nents are in rel­a­tive agree­ment, in­clud­ing sup­port for vic­tims of sex­ual as­sault and the need for prop­erty tax re­lief. One of the dis­agree­ments be­tween the two can­di­dates is on the topic of ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing.

Can­di­dates re­sponded to a ques­tion about sup­port for the ef­fort to open a win­dow al­low­ing vic­tims of sex­ual abuse by the Catholic Church to sue with the fol­low­ing:

“I will never walk away from vic­tims. If elected, I will be right there in Jan­uary, when the Se­nate picks up this fight again, de­mand­ing that we vote on a bill that gives vic­tims the jus­tice they de­serve, and not a sham bill that pro­tects the abusers. Vic­tims of sex­ual as­sault ab­so­lutely de­serve the op­por­tu­nity to hold the abusers and the church ac­count­able for their ac­tions and lack of over­sight,” Muth said in re­sponse to the ques­tion.

Raf­ferty said he has and will con­tinue to sup­port vic­tims of sex­ual as­sault.

“I have and will con­tinue to sup­port open­ing a win­dow to al­low vic­tims to sue their abusers. Our Con­sti­tu­tion does not grant any pro­tec­tions to these abusers or the in­sti­tu­tions hid­ing them,” Raf­ferty said in his re­sponse.

In a ques­tion­naire, both Muth and Raf­ferty ex­pressed a need for prop­erty tax re­lief.

In re­sponse to a ques­tion about sup­port­ing the abo­li­tion of the prop­erty tax and how it could be ac­com­plished, Muth sug­gested two ap­proaches in­clud­ing “tax­ing wealthy cor­po­ra­tions and clos­ing the Delaware loop­hole, in or­der to make sure that they pay their fair share,” and “to charge a sev­er­ance tax on the oil and gas in­dus­try.”

Raf­ferty re­sponded, “By driv­ing dol­lars from in­creases in state bud­get rev­enue, fair fund­ing for­mula and monies from hav­ing en­acted a sev­er­ance tax.”

Both can­di­dates ex­pressed sup­port for the levy­ing of a sev­er­ance tax on nat­u­ral gas drillers in Penn­syl­va­nia.

In re­sponse to a ques­tion about sup­port of the Penn­syl­va­nia Fair Fund­ing For­mula for Ed­u­ca­tion, Raf­ferty stated that he sup­ports the for­mula and that he be­lieves it is be­ing funded ad­e­quately.

Muth, how­ever, says she sup­ports the for­mula, but that it is not be­ing funded ad­e­quately.

“I pro­pose that we in­crease ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing through a fair fund­ing for­mula which would equate to $3.7 bil­lion over a num­ber of years (this is crit­i­cal since the fair fund­ing for­mula only ap­plies to money added af­ter 2014-2015- last year we only raised this share by $100 mil­lion which equates to only 1.7 per­cent). We also need to pro­vide re­sources via the fair fund­ing for­mula faster to those school dis­tricts that have been short­changed by state fund­ing. I also pro­pose that we raise the state’s share of spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing to 35 per­cent, so that all of those stu­dents in need of those ser­vices get the at­ten­tion that they are en­ti­tled to,” she wrote.

Can­di­dates were also asked about the size of the Gen­eral Assem­bly and whether they would sup­port mak­ing it smaller.

“Yes, I have voted in fa­vor of re­duc­ing the size of the leg­is­la­ture pre­vi­ously and would do so again,” read Raf­ferty’s re­sponse.

“If we are go­ing to pay peo­ple to be full-time leg­is­la­tors, then they need to do full-time work,” wrote Muth. “The big­gest is­sue is not the size of the Leg­is­la­ture, but their job per­for­mance. We need to hold our leg­is­la­tors to a higher stan­dard and they should be held to the same job per­for­mance stan­dards that many of us are held to daily. I sup­port leg­is­la­tion, such as House Bill 2469, which would sus­pend law­mak­ers’ salaries if they do not pass the state’s gen­eral fund bud­get by their an­nual June 30 dead­line. Bud­gets not passed on time cost tax­pay­ers money. I also ad­vo­cate for state cam­paign fi­nance re­form — Penn­syl­va­nia has some of the weak­est cam­paign fi­nance laws in the coun­try — so that our rep­re­sen­ta­tives are elected by the peo­ple, not spe­cial in­ter­ests and lob­by­ists.”

Muth, 34, of Royersford, earned her bach­e­lor’s de­gree in ath­letic train­ing/sports medicine from Penn­syl­va­nia State Uni­ver­sity and her mas­ter’s de­gree in the same from A.T. Still Uni­ver­sity.

Muth works as an ad­junct pro­fes­sor in the Ki­ne­si­ol­ogy de­part­ment at a lo­cal uni­ver­sity and as a health care pro­fes­sional.

Raf­ferty, 65, of Lower Prov­i­dence, earned his bach­e­lor’s de­gree from the Uni­ver­sity of Pitts­burgh at John­stown, his mas­ter’s de­gree from Beaver Col­lege and his law de­gree from Tem­ple Uni­ver­sity.

Prior to run­ning for the Penn­syl­va­nia Se­nate, Se­na­tor Raf­ferty served as an at­tor­ney in pri­vate prac­tice fo­cus­ing on ed­u­ca­tion, real es­tate, zon­ing, busi­ness and es­tate law. As Deputy At­tor­ney Gen­eral for the Com­mon­wealth from 1988 to 1991, he was as­signed to the Crim­i­nal Law Divi­sion where his pri­mary duty was in­ves­ti­gat­ing and pros­e­cut­ing Med­i­caid fraud.

Penn­syl­va­nia’s 44th Sen­a­to­rial District in­cludes parts of Berks, Ch­ester and Mont­gomery coun­ties.

In Ch­ester County, the 44th District in­cludes Caln Town­ship, East Brandy­wine, East Coven­try, East Nant­meal, East Pike­land, East Vin­cent, Elver­son, Honey Brook, North Coven­try, Spring City, South Coven­try, Up­per Uwch­lan, Wal­lace Town­ship, Uwch­lan Town­ship, War­wick, West Brandy­wine, West Caln, West Nant­meal and West Vin­cent Town­ship.

In Mont­gomery County, the district in­cludes Col­legeville, Lim­er­ick, Lower Potts­grove, Lower Prov­i­dence, Royersford, Up­per Prov­i­dence, West Nor­ri­ton and Worces­ter.

In Berks County, the 44th District in­cludes Amity, Dou­glass and Union town­ships.

Katie Muth

Sen. John Raf­ferty Jr.

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