Billy Chen, a senior at Julia R. Masterman High School, shares his opinion with the Northeast Times.
By Billy Chen
A lifelong resident of Northeast Philadelphia, Martina White was elected to her first full term as a member of the House of Representatives in 2016. She was the first new Republican to be selected in 25 years. And above all, her prior job as a financial adviser makes this feat even more impressive. Currently, she is a part of the Urban Affairs, Health, Consumer Affairs and Judiciary committees. As the House representative of the 170th district, White fights for the families of Bustleton, Millbrook, Parkwood and Somerton.
With her financial background, White understood the difficulties in raising children in today’s society where the cost of education and healthcare are rising at an alarming rate. White’s desire to help working families across Pennsylvania drove her to become a representative. As a result, many of her policies today regard the protection of the police, education and the prevention of welfare fraud.
As a student, I appreciate White’s firm stance on education. Over the summer, I received the chance to work with students all across the nation, many of whom came from private and suburban schools. The classes and extracurriculars that their schools provided left me speechless and in awe. These privileges simply cannot be offered under the School District of Philadelphia. After all, it is severely underfunded, a problem that has lingered for the past decade. As White has mentioned, funds cannot be taken from mere short-term taxes. In other words, there should be no increases in taxes. Instead, a specifically allocated capital, such as an endowment fund, must be grown to provide schools the aid needed financially in the long term. With higher funding comes a higher quality of education, which in turn correlates to a brighter future for the upcoming generation.
With the growing use of social media, the jobs of our police officers have become increasingly more difficult. Because of the constant threat of becoming subjected to hostility, many officers are afraid to even act. These fears not only hinder the safety of communities but lead to more crimes. Consequently, White has pushed for House Bill 1538, which gives officers who have injured or killed an individual 30 days after the incident before their names are released. This bill allows for investigations to be conducted, clarifying all misunderstandings, while also letting the public anger settle. Although, at the surface, this bill may seem to protect hate crimes, it is meant to protect the officers who have indeed committed an accident and had no intentions to hurt anyone specifically. By having a designated period to clarify possible misconceptions, officers can do their jobs with less fear of being a target for hatred, opening a gateway to a safer Philadelphia.
Currently, in Philadelphia, many individuals are taking advantage of the welfare system by receiving welfare from multiple states. Furthermore, many of these individuals do not qualify for aid, either. House Bill 1322 will crack down on these individuals, forcing them to report all states in which they have received welfare benefits as well as offering proof that those benefits have been canceled before they can apply for benefits in a new state. Additionally, this bill provides a means of assistance for low-income families to exit poverty.
Although White supports many policies for which I am grateful, I do not understand nor concur with her policy on sanctuary cities. It is true that criminals disguised as immigrants should not be allowed to enter our city believing that they are free of prosecution. However, would House Bill 28 not hold the city accountable for the damages caused by these potential criminals, and would it not be illegal to forbid a law enforcement official to restrict sharing information regarding the immigration status of an individual? And, is it not too extreme to withhold the funds of the city until it complies with the bill? Furthermore, it is estimated that this bill would cause Philadelphia to lose $600 million annually. This is a considerable sum for a city that is already dealing with financial struggles.
Despite these critiques, I appreciate Martina White’s job as the House representative for the 170th district. ••
Billy Chen, of Somerton, is a senior at Julia R. Masterman High School. Members of the senior class have been assigned to write about their state representatives.