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Wagner Says He’d Fight Urban Poverty Where Democrats Failed

Keith Srakocic
Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner making a campaign stop at a diner in Imperial, Pa.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner on Tuesday accused public officials, and Democrats in particular, of failing to combat urban poverty.

Wagner told a Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia event at the downtown Pyramid Club that he would establish a low-interest loan fund through community banks for people wanting to start a business and partner with firms like Uber and Lyft if necessary to make mass transportation more accessible.

Wagner also said he would look to retool public-assistance programs and overhaul sentencing, probation and parole systems that are unduly punitive.

Wagner, who is challenging Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf in November's election, pointed out that Philadelphia is ranked by Census figures as the nation's poorest major city, and questioned what Philadelphians and other urban dwellers have to lose by supporting him.

"When you look around your communities, and especially Philadelphia, and see what Democrats like Tom Wolf have delivered, what do you have to lose by taking a chance on someone committed to engaging and improving your life?" Wagner said in a prepared copy of his speech.

The Wolf campaign accused Wagner of doing "everything in his power" to hold back cities while he served in the state Senate for four years, resigning in June. Wagner fought Wolf's push to increase state aid to public schools and is a threat to roll back the state's Medicaid expansion, the Wolf campaign said.

About 12.5 percent of Pennsylvanians live below the federal poverty level. Philadelphia's poverty rate is about twice that level, Census figures show.

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