West Chester, PA – Democratic Party Candidate Bret Binder outperformed his Republican opponent, Dan Truitt, in their first debate, on Monday evening. The debate was hosted by the West Chester Southwest Association of Neighbors (SWAN) at the Reformed Presbyterian Church in downtown West Chester in front of a crowd of about sixty people.
During the debate, Binder said that it is imperative that we restore funding for public education. Binder said that, “over 860 million dollars was cut from k-12 funding in the last two years under Governor Corbett and my opponent Dan Truitt.” Binder, who supports strong traditional public schools and tighter regulations for charter schools, stated, “Our tax dollars are going to charter schools, but we have no way of tracking where and how these dollars are spent.” Binder pointed out that the company which manages Chester Upland’s charter school made fifteen million dollars of taxpayer money in one year, and that the CEO of a local charter school made more than five million dollars in one year. Truitt said he favors higher payments to charter schools, including for-profit charter schools and cyber-charter schools even though they have lower operating costs. Truitt argued that he doesn’t care where these dollars go or how they are spent as long as the children are being educated. Binder said that providing every child with a great education is a moral issue and an economic imperative because poorly educated children cost taxpayers more in social services, particularly prison costs, and results in higher unemployment. Binder argued that a well-trained workforce is important to create and attract jobs for Pennsylvania.
The candidates also clashed on environmental issues, particularly on how, and how much, to tax and regulate Pennsylvania’s shale gas. Binder pointed out that under Truitt and Corbett, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Affairs has lost one-third of its funding. As a result, there are fewer gas well inspectors in the state now than there were four years ago, despite the growth of the gas industry. Truitt said that he voted for a 1% impact fee instead of the 6%-9% tax rate that Texas, West Virginia, and Oklahoma charge because that was the most the legislature was willing to pass. Truitt claimed that the 1% rate was high enough and he was willing to settle for a quarter-loaf or half-loaf. Binder said that he’s a “full loaf kind of guy” and said that he’s against giving away money to special interest groups and that the too-low impact fee means that Pennsylvania loses approximately 400 million dollars per year.
Binder and Truitt disagreed on several other issues. Binder is pro-choice. Truitt is pro-life. Truitt applauded Chester County’s inclusion in a pilot block-grant program which cut welfare payments for Chester County, and blamed the administration of Governor Ed Rendell for many of Pennsylvania’s economic woes. In contrast, Binder said that he would create good jobs for Pennsylvanians through investment in infrastructure, improved vocational training, changes to the tax code, and expansion of the Keystone Opportunity Zone program.
The most surprising statement of the evening came from Truitt, who said that he would be a Libertarian if the Libertarian Party were more organized. Coming from an elected Republican official, this was indeed surprising.
Binder is an attorney and is the founder and managing partner of Binder & Canno, LLC. His practice focuses on small businesses, real estate, and commercial litigation. Binder earned his law degree at Villanova University School of Law. He has a B.A. in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania where he also minored in mathematics and engineering. The 156th District includes West Chester Borough, East Goshen Township, West Goshen Township, and portions of East Bradford Township in central Chester County.
For Additional information, please contact:
Mike Leibowitz, Campaign Press Assistant
803 West Market Street
West Chester, PA 19382