Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Who the Hell Is Scott Wagner?

If you're a Pennsylvania teacher whose blood pressure is a little low this morning, here's a little something to kick it into a higher gear:

That's Pennsylvania State Senator Scott Wagner of the 28th district, which basically covers York County (the home base of Governor Tom Wolf).

Wagner's political career is impressive. Wagner is straight out of the private sector; he owns and operates a waste management business and a trucking company. He has long been a supporter of the GOP, but in 2014, when the Senate seat opened up, the GOP attempted to thwart his attempt to run. This dance has been repeated in many GOP areas across the state, including my own, with a Tea Party-ish candidate being told to go sit down and behave by the GOP establishment.

But as sometimes happens, the GOP establishment seriously underestimated just how pissed off voters were, and Wagner became the first Pennsylvanian to win an election as a write-in candidate. Wagner did not just beat the GOP and Democrat candidates, but absolutely shellacked them, winning 48% of the vote (neither of the other candidates cracked the 30% mark).

That got people's attention. The PA legislature runs on seniority, but Wagner is now chair of the Urban Affairs and Housing Committee. And Tom Wolf's office has targeted him, saying that he's "calling the shots in the Republican Caucus."

So is the clip above a momentary aberration in Wagner's career. Nope.

On his website (I can't get them embedded here) you can find clips in which Wagner stumps for paycheck protection, a popular initiative that uses specious claims to push legislation making it illegal for unions to let their members pay dues through payroll deductions.  Wagner also takes five minutes to explain why teacher salaries are out of control, and the math he uses is--well, special. He takes one district, looks at the total costs for salary, compares that to the total salaries from a year five years later, and somehow concludes from those two numbers that teachers are getting a 6% raise every year. It's a bizarrely inaccurate way to figure out teacher wage increases, particularly when tehre's a pay scale that is public information that would give you the exact answer. Gosh, it's almost as if he was looking for a way to compute the figures that would give him a larger answer for effect, as if he weren't interested in the truth of the matter at all.

You can read his thoughts about school funding at greater length here, but the basics are in this quote: "Pennsylvania does not have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem." (Oh, and unions are kind of like Hitler and Stalin and Putin, too).

Or if you want to get another head of steam up, check out this video in which Wagner explains why no raise in minimum wage is needed.

Yep. Poor folks are just lazy, drug-addled, unwilling-to-get-up slackers.

I will give Wagner credit for this-- he inspired this fun video from the organization Kids Against Education. "Thanks, Scott Wagner!"

But I think we can safely say that although Wagner is a newbie in Harrisburg, he has quickly established himself as a staunch foe of public education and the teachers who work there. I expect his name will come up again.


  1. Wagner should stick to garbage.

  2. Thanks, Peter. I wanted to write something about Wagner last night, too, but was just too angry. It would be like a Hodor chapter of "Game of Thrones" with nothing but expletives! Keep up the great work.