2020 Leg. Candidate Questionnaire: Christina Sappey, 158th State House District

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Christina Sappey

Editor’s Note: As has been our tradition, The Times sent our its annual questionnaire to all Chester County legislative candidates, via their respective party. We publish these responses entirely unedited and unfiltered to give readers an honest assessment of the candidates and their positions. They will be published as candidates return them to us.

1. Although there are many major challenges facing Pennsylvania, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is currently front and center. There is stark disagreement in the current legislature on Gov. Tom Wolf’s handling of the Pandemic. What, if anything, would you do differently and why?

Given that our president has continually denied the danger of Covid-19 and offered no direction, it was critically important for the state to act quickly to ensure the health and safety of our citizens. This has at times been less than perfect. When you’re learning to fly a plane while flying a plane it can be a white knuckle experience; however, while it has been painful for all of us, PA has fared better than many states because we have worked with the evolving science and responded accordingly. I have worked consistently with the administration and colleagues to amend burdensome industry regulations, to strike balance between health and public safety and the economy. As a result, real estate, garden centers, specialty crop agriculture, retail, restaurants and large group gatherings have seen modifications that allow them to operate safely.

2. Although Pennsylvania was facing a fiscal shortfall before the pandemic, now it is expected to range between $3 and $5B. How would you close that budget gap? Cuts, taxes? Be specific, what programs/funding would you cut or what taxes would you raise (or work to create new revenue streams)?

Our state agencies are already operating with minimal staff, so further cuts and merging only hurt efficiency and effectiveness more. The scope of agency work to meet the needs of a state the size of ours is huge, so I continue to support digitizing services as much as possible. I also support bringing new industries to PA, such as data and distribution centers, to create jobs and expand local economies in regions of the commonwealth that have infrastructure such as the I-80 corridor.

3. Public school funding and property taxes continue to be a concern in Pennsylvania — state funding of public schools as a percentage of budget continues to slide, a trend that is more than 30 years old. With litigation for fair funding in process, how would you change how the state funds its public schools.

The state should return to funding 50% of the cost of public education. This is the only original mandate in the state constitution, and if the education of our citizens continues to be a shared priority we need to return to a larger investment from the state.

4. Following on, Pennsylvania is 47th by some measures in funding higher education — many other state schools charge less for out of state students than Pa. schools charge for in state students. Is the state underfunding our higher education institutions?

The PASSHE system is definitely challenged and we need to address this urgently. The typical 4 year college student model is changing, with many students working and going to school over a period of years now.  As the crown jewel of the system, West Chester University is leading by example in innovation and collaborative programming.

5. Tom Wolf and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman have come out strongly for legalization of marijuana for adults (and expunging records for those with possession convictions). Where do you stand on this issue?

I support decriminalization, but I continue to be hesitant of full legalization. I have not seen any plans or revenue projections and that concerns me. The opioid crisis rages on here in PA and while there is disagreement about pot being a gateway drug, I believe we need to strengthen our prevention and treatment delivery. If we legalize marijuana, I would want to see a sizable portion of the revenue go to substance abuse prevention and treatment.

6. Policing and its funding have been part of a national conversation of late. Should local municipalities be expected to pay more of the costs of State Police if they do not have local police? Additionally, does the state need to find a new funding mechanism for law enforcement funding, either locally or statewide.

Municipalities should not be expected to pay more for state police coverage in the absence of municipal policing. Our law enforcement is stretched thin though, so a full review of how we fund state and local law enforcement is needed to ensure they have what they need to protect our communities.

7. Fracking and the Mariner East II pipeline are increasingly becoming controversial in Chester County. Has the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) properly supervised the pipeline construction? Also, where do you stand on fracking? Should it be halted in the state?

I don’t believe DEP, or any state agency, has the necessary oversight to properly ensure the safety of pipeline construction. I oppose fracking and believe that if we are to meet our goal of zero carbon emission by 2050, we have to move away from fossil fuels.

8. What changes, if any, do you support in terms of gun safety in Pennsylvania?

Increased training, extreme risk protection orders and background checks for each purchase.

9. With the nomination and likely confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the US Supreme Court, it is possible that Roe v. Wade, the ruling that legalized abortion in the U.S., will be overturned, returning the issue to the states. Where do you stand and how would you vote if there was a bill banning abortion in Pennsylvania?

I fully support a woman’s right to make her own reproductive decisions, and I will continue to vote against any bill that takes this right away.

10. Are Pennsylvania’s protections for the LGBTQ community adequate? If not, what would you change?

No, our laws are in no way adequate. We need to statutorily end discrimination of the LGBTQ community in housing, employment and all other facets of life.

11. Is there an issue in Pennsylvania you feel does not get enough attention that you plan to highlight if elected?

I would like to see the delivery of transition services to our special needs students improved, particularly those on the autism spectrum. We spend a great deal of time and resources supporting these students from pre-k thru graduation, but the transition support to employment and independent living post- graduation lags for many reasons. We have known for over 2 decades that this population was growing, so it is unacceptable that the availability and consistency of transition services has not expanded to meet this need.

12. Getting personal, can you tell us something about yourself that might surprise people (ie, unusual hobby or pet, brush with fame, etc.)?

I play a mean game of badminton.

 

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