State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

Wagner gives conciliatory farewell speech, departs Senate

Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Jun 5, 2018 5:45 AM

Scott Wagner has resigned his Senate seat early to devote more time to running for governor. (Photo by AP)

(Harrisburg) - GOP gubernatorial nominee Scott Wagner has now officially left the state Senate.

The now-former York County lawmaker sent leadership his resignation last week, saying he wants to devote more time to running against incumbent Democrat Tom Wolf.

His tenure officially ended Monday at midnight.

It is customary for departing lawmakers to make remarks on the floor. And in this case, Wager made what was essentially a stump speech in the middle of a Senate session--hearkening back to campaign centerpieces like the claim that "Pennsylvania does not have a revenue problem, it has spending and mismanagement problem," and that "Harrisburg operates at a snail's pace."

The York County Republican entered the Senate as a vocal critic of Harrisburg, with a my-way-or-the-highway approach to his goal of reducing spending and paring down regulations.

But asked what exactly he's accomplished during his tenure, Wagner didn't point to bare-knuckle negotiations, but to compromise on a proposed measure to wipe certain criminal records.

"There's a lot more dialogue," he said. "I mean to think that a Republican senator from York County would have crossed the aisle and crafted a Clean Slate bill with Senator Williams from Philadelphia."

Wagner also offered an apology to lawmakers and others he may have offended over the years with his "strong personality."

"You know, I've said things over the years, that, maybe I regret that I said them," he told reporters. "And I think it's, you know, worthwhile for people to step forward and say 'I made a mistake,' or 'I wish I would have done something different.'"

In conversations after his speech, Wagner also appeared to walk back comments he made during the primary race about not wanting to allocate more funding for public schools.

The real necessity, he said, is lawmakers tracking where current funds are going first. However, "there's a possibility we might need more money in the schools, but we don't know."

In a statement on Wagner's departure, a spokeswoman for Governor Tom Wolf's campaign accused him of "trying to slash public education funding, roll back peoples' health care coverage, and throw seniors out of their nursing homes" during his time in the Senate.

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