Energy, Resources, and the Environment
Pennsylvania has long been a powerhouse in the energy and natural resources industries. Timber, steel, coal, oil, gas, and nuclear have sustained the economy of the Commonwealth. In order to keep jobs here in Pennsylvania we have provided grants and tax breaks to private and exploitative industries, but too often, these corporations pack up and leave giving the taxpayer their legacy of environmental issues. We need jobs that enrich our communities and do not export the profits of our labor to polluting industries. We need an economy that is sustainable, equitable, and coexistent with a healthy environment.
In the future we will transition to 100% clean energy that sufficiently meets demand, properly manages our natural resources, and avoids damaging environmental and health impacts. To set the stage for a Green New Deal in Pennsylvania we will increase state oversight of the energy and natural resource industry. As part of this effort, we will focus on:
- Providing a comparison of green alternatives for every state grant and tax break given to the energy and natural resources industries.
- Preparing a metric that can demonstrate the real-life social value of grants and tax breaks. This metric must include consideration for indigenous rights, restoration of peoples of color, supportive of labor, and respectfully to the preservation of lands for future generations.
- Documentation of the hand-outs given to industries that disproportionately harm our health and the environment.
- Unrelentingly demand a ban on Fracking.
By demonstrating the real-life impact of supporting industries that are detrimental to our health and the environment and by providing comparisons with green alternatives that add social value to our society we will prepare the stage for implementing a Green New Deal in Pennsylvania.
Equitable Tax Rate and Corporate Tax Reform
Reliance on property taxes for public school system funding has caused a disproportionate burden on those with lower and fixed incomes. While more state funding of the public school system is required to see relief on local taxes, we must update our tax code to allow for an equitable graduated tax rate structure and address loopholes in corporate taxes.
We will establish an equitable graduated tax rate on income. Repeal the ‘uniformity clause’ in the PA Constitution allowing for an increased tax rate on income from wealth (e.g. dividends, capital gains, business profits, estates, royalties, and gambling winnings ) while lowering the tax on wages and interest.
We must institute ‘combined reporting’ for the corporate net income tax to close the Delaware Loophole. Most corporations that do business in Pennsylvania presently pay no corporate income tax. Our corporate tax system uses separate reporting which requires corporations to pay taxes on only the profit they make in Pennsylvania. This allows large multi-state and multinational corporations to avoid paying tax on the total profit of their products by funneling costs through their Pennsylvania subsidiaries. Combined reporting captures the actual profit of the product and requires a state tax on the total profit, not just the profit produced by the subsidiary in Pennsylvania.
Criminal Justice Reform
The United States has the highest incarceration and recidivism rates of industrialized countries, while our nation's criminal justice system is inhumane, ineffective, and prohibitively expensive. The majority of prisoners are serving terms for non-violent, minor property and drug addiction crimes, or violations of their conditions of parole or probation, while the poor, the under-educated and various racial and ethnic minorities are overrepresented in the prison population.
Our priorities must include efforts to prevent violent crime and address the legitimate needs of victims, while addressing the socio-economic root causes of crime and practicing policies that prevent recidivism. Our practices and performance will focus on:
- Establishing programs to strengthen self-help and community action through neighborhood centers that provide legal aid, alternative dispute-resolution practices, mediated restitution, community team policing, and access to local crisis/assault care shelters.
- Establishing elected or appointed independent civilian review boards with subpoena power to investigate complaints about prison guard and community police behavior.
- A ban of private prisons.
- Ending cash bail and eliminating the prosecution of non-violent crimes.
- Ensuring prison conditions are humane and sanitary, including, but not limited to, heat, light, exercise, clothing, nutrition, libraries, possessions, and personal safety (including appropriate and timely healthcare). Making incarceration more community-based, including through increased visitor access by families and by not gouging family for calls, etc.
- Making reduction of recidivism a primary goal of parole. Treating parole as a time of reintegration into the community, not as a continuation of sentence. Providing community reentry programs for inmates before their release. Providing opportunities to earn appropriate income in jobs that they can continue after release.