We must end politics as usual in order to address state's challenges
TEPLITZ RELEASES GOVERNMENT REFORM PLAN
We must end politics as usual in order to address state's challenges
HARRISBURG (September 10, 2012) — Rob Teplitz, the Democratic candidate for the open state Senate seat in the 15th district, today released his comprehensive plan to bring fundamental reforms to state government.
“It is time to address our state’s serious challenges, especially creating good-paying jobs and strengthening our schools. But the only way to get buy-in from Pennsylvanians is to make sure they aren’t being sold out,” Teplitz said. “That’s why my top priority will be to enact these reforms and end politics as usual in Harrisburg.”
Teplitz’s detailed plan (printed below) covers the following categories: the structure and inner workings of the General Assembly; legislative perks and compensation; public involvement in lawmaking; voting and ballot access; and campaign finance, lobbying, and ethics reform. It also includes strengthening the role of independent government watchdogs, and changing state law to require annual independent audits of the multimillion-dollar legislative slush fund that led to the recent Bonusgate scandals.
In order to ensure that these and other reforms are enacted into law, Teplitz will also pursue a state constitutional convention and directly involve the public in the process of designing their state government. The last such convention was held over 40 years ago.
“No doubt, there’s a modern-day James Madison in Middletown, an Alexander Hamilton in Hershey, or a Benjamin Franklin in Newberry who can help move our Commonwealth into the 21st century,” said Teplitz. “Pennsylvania families and taxpayers deserve a government that is ready, willing, and able to serve their interests. We can – and must – deliver it.”
Rob Teplitz is the Chief Counsel and Policy Director at the Pennsylvania Department of the Auditor General. He has spent most of his career fighting alongside Bob Casey and Jack Wagner to protect the public’s hard-earned tax dollars, make government programs work better, and bring transparency, accountability, and reform to the Capitol. Among his proudest accomplishments are strengthening Megan’s Law to protect women and children from sexual predators, exposing the risky financial schemes that government uses to gamble away your tax dollars on Wall Street, and helping to put those who violate the public trust behind bars.
In the state Senate, Teplitz will continue his work by focusing on creating jobs, strengthening our schools, keeping taxes as low as possible, and bringing fundamental reforms to state government.
Teplitz, age 41, is a lifelong Central Pennsylvanian and an honors graduate of Central Dauphin High School, Franklin & Marshall College, and Cornell Law School. He grew up in Dauphin County’s Lower Paxton Township and currently lives in Susquehanna Township with his wife Randi and their two sons.
Teplitz has built the broadest base of support of any candidate in the race. Announced endorsements of Teplitz include the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, Pennsylvania State Education Association, Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties, Service Employees International Union, Central Pennsylvania Building and Construction Trades Council, Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association, Equality Pennsylvania, Capital Region Stonewall Democrats, Humane Society, Clean Water Action, and Planned Parenthood.
The 15th senatorial district includes most of Dauphin County and the following municipalities in York County: Conewago, Newberry, Goldsboro, Lewisberry, and York Haven.
THE TEPLITZ PLAN TO REFORM STATE GOVERNMENT
Pennsylvanians agree on many things. We want a quality education for our kids. Safe, modern roads and bridges. Low taxes. And good jobs that allow us to support our families. Sadly, we also agree on our disgust at the misplaced priorities, broken promises, and unethical and illegal conduct coming from politicians of both parties.
I have spent most of my career fighting alongside Bob Casey and Jack Wagner to protect the public’s hard-earned tax dollars, make government programs work better, and bring transparency, accountability, and reform to government. I’ve learned that, in the Capitol, how politics happens drives what policies happen. Therefore, bringing fundamental reforms to state government must be one of our highest priorities. That’s the only way we will ever be in a position to truly address the critical substantive challenges to our great Commonwealth.
My comprehensive reform agenda includes the following:
• reducing the size of the General Assembly;
• changing state law to require annual independent audits of the General Assembly and the multi-million dollar legislative slush fund that led to Bonusgate;
• eliminating legislative perks and annual cost-of-living allowances, and requiring public input and oversight of the compensation and benefits provided to elected officials;
• requiring that the state budget be passed on time every year, and preventing state elected officials from being paid until they do their jobs;
• prohibiting legislative votes after midnight on session days, less than 48 hours after the final version of the bill is ready, and during “lame duck” sessions;
• instituting non-partisan legislative redistricting so that voters select their legislators instead of legislators hand-picking their voters;
• increasing public involvement in lawmaking by allowing initiatives and referenda;
• expanding opportunities to register to vote, including same-day voter registration and no-cause absentee ballots;
• expanding opportunities to cast your vote, including open primaries that give independent voters a voice and equal ballot access laws that enable all candidates to earn a spot on the ballot regardless of party affiliation;
• ensuring that every vote counts by requiring post-election audits to confirm that electronically reported results are correct;
• limiting the influence of money in politics through serious campaign finance, lobbying, and ethics law reform;
• eliminating “pay-to-play” and secret, no-bid public contracts;
• strengthening and enforcing open records and open meeting laws;
• requiring the periodic review of the effectiveness of statutes, regulations, programs, and entire agencies, via sunset laws; and
• strengthening independent government watchdogs such as the Department of the Auditor General, State Ethics Commission, and Office of Open Records.
There may be other items worth considering, but clearly this would be a solid start.
Skeptics might note that legislators are unlikely to enact these reforms into law. Cynics might add that, if we could trust them to do so, we wouldn’t need these reforms in the first place. They’re both right.
That’s why a state constitutional convention is not only necessary, but imperative. “We, the people” – to borrow from the language of the preamble of our state constitution – must take our government into our own hands, impose the reforms that we agree are necessary, and create the environment that will enable – or force – our elected officials to meet our most serious challenges.
As stated above, process drives results. We must change the process in order to achieve better results on jobs, education, taxes, infrastructure, and other critical issues.
It has been over 40 years since the general public was directly involved in designing their state government via a constitutional convention. Another one is long overdue. No doubt, there is a modern-day James Madison in Middletown, an Alexander Hamilton in Hershey, or a Benjamin Franklin in Newberry who can help move our Commonwealth into the 21st century. Pennsylvania families and taxpayers deserve a government that is ready, willing, and able to serve their interests. We can – and must – deliver it.