HARRISBURG, Pa. (WTAJ) — During a press conference Thursday, the governor called on the legislature to stop the games and pass his government reform plan to rein in special interests and hold politicians accountable.
“The pandemic has shown us that Pennsylvanians need accountable government now more than ever,” said Gov. Wolf. “I am calling on the General Assembly to take action on three government reforms to improve accountability and rein in special interests.”
Governor Wolf’s Government Reform Plan includes:
- Banning Gifts for Public Officials: On his first day in office, Gov. Wolf banned members of his administration from accepting gifts and believes that all public officials should be held to the same standard. Pennsylvania is one of 10 states with no specific law limiting gifts to public officials. Outside the executive branch, politicians in Harrisburg can take unlimited gifts from special interests. Legislative action is needed to make the gift ban expanded and permanent so all state elected officials are accountable to it.
- Campaign Finance Reform: Enacting new campaign finance laws that would place limits on contributions to candidates seeking elected office, implement aggregate limits for races, place sensible restrictions on Political Action Committees (PACs), and strengthen reporting and disclosure requirements across the board to restore confidence in government, and curtail the role of campaign spending in our political process.
- Outside Income Transparency: Requiring public officials to disclose sources, type of work and amount of outside income received.
Pennsylvania received an ‘F’ grade from the Center for Public Integrity for state government accountability and transparency, ranking 45th among the states. The 2015 report praised Gov. Wolf’s reform efforts but criticized the legislature for failing to act.
Governor Wolf is leading by example as he donates his salary to charity and does not take a state pension. In addition to the gift ban, the governor ended pay-to-play legal contracting and requires his cabinet to post expenses online to increase transparency.
The governor was joined by Suzanne Almeida, interim executive director of Common Cause Pennsylvania
“Transparency in government is essential to a healthy and strong democracy. That’s why Common Cause works to strengthen transparency laws across the country,” said Almeida. “Secret spending erodes people’s trust in government and that trust is more important now than it has ever been. Transparency promotes accountability and makes it possible for voters to make informed decisions.”
Beyond ethics reform, the governor continues to take steps to protect the upcoming election with safe and secure mail-in voting and new voting machines with a paper trail. The governor is urging the legislature to give counties more time to process mail-in ballots before election day.
Eligible Pennsylvanians interested in voting by mail should sign up now for a mail-in or absentee ballot at votespa.com and return the completed ballot well before election day.
The state and counties are making further election improvements. Many counties are increasing staffing and will use high-speed scanners and other technology to quickly process millions of mail-in ballots in the Nov. 3 election. The Wolf Administration is also providing counties with masks and face shields for poll workers, hand sanitizer, floor marking tape for social distancing, and other supplies so Pennsylvanians can safely vote.