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Wolf Talks Taxes, Job Training and Medicaid Expansion in Pittsburgh Stop

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Tom Wolf made a campaign trip to Pittsburgh Friday, and the topics of discussion were as diverse as the site of his stop.

Wolf toured the Bidwell Training Center in Manchester which offers students career-learning opportunities in fields ranging from chemical laboratory technician to the culinary arts, from horticultural to jazz.

“We want to deliver on the promise of a good education," Wolf said. "We’ve got to understand that we’ve got to look for fresh ideas, imagination. When you come to a center like this, it’s just alive with new ideas, imagination, things you’d never think about but that can be brought into the main stream.”

Wolf praised the school and its founder Bill Strickland for their hands-on learning approach. The Bidwell Training Center boasts an 85 to 90 percent placement rate of graduates in their field of study. 

“He’s (Strickland) taken this on the road," Wolf said. "It’s not just good for Pittsburgh.”

Bidwell has served as a model for similar training centers in San Francisco, Buffalo and Grand Rapids, Mich.

Wolf was asked for his reaction to the federal government’s approval of Gov. Tom Corbett’s request for a waiver to Medicaid expansion and instead use the additional federal funds for Pennsylvania to subsidize private health insurance for eligible state residents without coverage.

“I’m still learning about the special waivers, the differences with the expansion of Medicaid," Wolf said. "Evidently this is pretty close to expansion. I think the easy thing and the best thing it to just expand Medicaid."

The Corbett re-election campaign has alleged that the middle class should fear a tax hike under a Wolf administration. The Democrat said he’s looking at the tax system overall and wants to make it fair. 

“That means a lot of people need to get a tax reduction," he said. "So we need a system that gives property tax relief. We need a system that actually gives small businesses relief. We need a fair tax system. Anybody who’s against a fair tax system should fear me.”

Jess was accepted as a WESA fellow in the news department in January 2014. The Erie, PA native attends Duquesne University where she has a double major--broadcast journalism and political science. Following her anticipated graduation in May 2015, she plans to enter law school or begin a career in broadcast journalism.