Muth challenges Rafferty for state Senate seat
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.
Sen. John Rafferty Jr.