State Senate debate showcases very different policy positions

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Oct 25, 2016 5:41 PM

State Senator Rob Teplitz (l) and candidate John DiSanto debated in the WITF studios.

(Harrisburg) -- In a recent state Senate debate on WITF's Smart Talk, candidates took more than 15 minutes to get past personal attacks and start talking about policy differences.

But when the topics shifted, the split became clearer.

Democratic state Senator Rob Teplitz is running for a second term in the 15th district, which includes most of Dauphin County and all of Perry County.

Republican John DiSanto is trying to grab the seat instead.

They argued over ethics, conflicts of interest, and even notetaking before turning to policy.

DiSanto wants to scrap the defined benefit plan for new state workers.

"We have to move new employees into a 401k style pension plan. That won't help the $60 billion, but it'll alleviate the problem moving forward," says DiSanto.

But Teplitz says that move actually wouldn't save money.

"Every independent review of that proposal says it cost taxpayers more money because you're transitioning to a new pension system. So that doesn't make any sense."

Teplitz points to a review by the Independent Fiscal Office that he says shows significant administrative costs for a switch before savings is seen decades from now.

Meanwhile, Tepliz says public schools need more money.

"We just can't ignore the fact that we have schools that are under-resourced. Not every school, but some school districts in the 15th district in particular are under-resourced and we need to make sure that they have enough resources," he adds.

But DiSanto says money isn't the issue for public schools.

He says "We need to end tenure, we need to have merit-based pay, and we need to hold our school districts accountable for the output."

Election Day is November 8th.

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