Letter to Gov. Wolf: Side with Voters, Not Government Union Special Interests

For Immediate Release
Commonwealth Foundation
Contact: John Bouder, 717-671-1901

Gov. Wolf: Side with Voters,
Not Government Union Special Interests

Wolf’s Stances Mirror His Major Donors’ at Taxpayers’ Expense

June 17, 2015, HARRISBURG, Pa.—The following is the text of an open letter sent today from Matthew J. Brouillette, president and CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation, to Gov. Tom Wolf, regarding his special interest problem.

The full text of the letter is available here including Wolf administration quotations mirroring those of government union leaders and campaign finance research showing donations from government unions to the governor’s campaign.

Dear Governor Wolf:

As you pursue massive tax increases on working Pennsylvanians and rebuke legislators and job creators for “appeas[ing] oil and gas special interests,” I felt it necessary to point out your own appeasement of certain private, political special interests—the government union leaders.

This chart shows how your stances on major issues mirror those of government union leaders while contradicting the public’s wishes:

Chart of Wolf, union, and voter positions on major issues

(Chart: Wolf, Union, and Voter positions on major issues)

You oppose public pension reform.

While your own company—like most Pennsylvania businesses—has transitioned from a defined benefit pension system to a defined contribution retirement plan, you parrot the same, tired, meritless arguments as AFSCME, PSEA, SEIU, AFL-CIO, UFCW, et al.

You oppose liquor privatization.

Whether Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal, rural or urban, Pennsylvanians want to end the government monopoly of wine and spirits sales, yet you stand with the UFCW and the positions of AFSCME, PSEA, SEIU, AFL-CIO, et al.

You oppose union contract transparency.

While proclaiming to be open and transparent, you use the same arguments as AFSCME, PSEA, SEIU, AFL-CIO, et al, in opposition to bills that would provide greater public insight and accountability into the negotiations of billions of public tax dollars with these government unions.

You oppose safe and effective educational choices for parents.

Today, taxpayers spend more on public education than ever, and the 10th highest per-pupil expenditure in the nation, yet you demand higher taxes while denying children opportunities to attend better and safer schools, using the same arguments as the PSEA, PFT, AFSCME, SEIU, AFL-CIO, UFCW, et al.

You support higher taxes on all Pennsylvanians.

On the campaign trail, you promised a middle class tax cut, but your budget will cost every income group in Pennsylvania more of their hard-earned money, mirroring the priorities of your largest campaign supporters—PSEA, PFT, AFSCME, SEIU, AFL-CIO, UFCW, et al.

Is it coincidence or convenience that your positions on these critical policy issues are also the same positions of your largest campaign contributors? Other than your own borrowed funds, your election was primarily funded by Pennsylvania’s government employee unions. All told, you received more than $3.4 million from twelve government unions in 2014.

You also received additional indirect support from at least three government unions that funneled $1.6 million to PA Families First, a Super PAC established by the Democratic Governors’ Association, which aided your election as governor. Presumably you will be heavily reliant on these same funders for your re-election efforts in 2018.

This is not about the rights of employees to join a union or let their union engage in electoral politics. Employees should be free to join—or not to join—any voluntary organization, including a labor union, and labor unions’ political activity should remain protected speech.

I write to challenge you to demonstrate you are willing to take on special interests, reach across the aisle, and stand with the citizens of Pennsylvania on key issues like pension reform, liquor store privatization, education reform and school choice, and contract transparency.

Since you refused to acknowledge my request for a meeting, I am enclosing Commonwealth Foundation analysis on each of these issues. I look forward to your response.

Sincerely yours,

Matthew J. Brouillette
President & CEO


Matthew Brouillette and other Commonwealth Foundation experts are available for comment today. Please contact John Bouder at 717-671-1901 or [email protected] to schedule an interview.

# # #

The Commonwealth Foundation transforms free-market ideas into public policies so all Pennsylvanians can flourish.