Harrisburg, PA, March 28 – Democratic Senate candidate, advocate, organizer, educator and former small business owner Alex Khalil has responded to a detailed candidate questionnaire on disability issues. The questionnaire is from RespectAbility, a nonpartisan nonprofit disability organization that does not endorse candidates. The questionnaire is purely for educational purposes.
One-in-five Americans has a disability, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. People with disabilities are America’s largest minority group. It is also the only one that, due to accident, aging or illness, anyone can join at any time. Indeed, there are over 1.8 million people living with some form of disability in Pennsylvania and their votes could be crucial in deciding who will represent them in the United States Senate.
Khalil is the first candidate in the upcoming Pennsylvania Senate race to respond to RespectAbility’s candidate questionnaire. The questionnaire is purely for educational purposes. RespectAbility has reached out to key Senate and gubernatorial campaigns on both sides of the aisle and will be posting all responses on The RespectAbility Report.
The full text of RespectAbility’s questions and Khalil’s responses follow:
EDUCATION & SKILLS: What is your plan for ensuring that all students with disabilities, including English Language Learners, receive a quality and appropriate education to acquire critical and marketable skills?
I am the only candidate to address this issue and it has been part of my platform since day 1 – see http://www.alexkhalilforussenate.com/ This text is taken directly from my website and has been there since I announced my candidacy over 1 year ago:
- Alex is running to ensure that EVERY child in Pennsylvania has a quality and inclusive education.
- Alex will work hard to ensure Pennsylvania’s Public schools receive full and expanded federal Title I and Part B of IDEA. Part B of IDEA authorized Congress to contribute up to 40% of the average per pupil expenditure. Currently the Feds contribute less than 15%. Alex will fight for the 40%. https://www.understandingspecialeducation.com/special-education-funding.html#:~:text=Special%20Education%20funding%20is%20a%20complicated%20topic.%20Most,education%20is%20entirely%20funded%20by%20the%20federal%20government
- A quality education includes an Everybody’s playground in all schools so that all children, including children with disabilities, can enjoy the outdoors while at school.
- Alex will introduce legislation that provides educational services for Children with disabilities after they reach 21 so that they reach their full potential. Education, training, and support services must go beyond 21 years old and not be based on a family’s income.
EMPLOYMENT & ENTREPRENEURSHIP: If elected, what will you do to advance opportunities for people with disabilities who want to work and earn an income, just like anyone else? How will you support employers, large and small, to recruit and hire workers with disabilities? How will you promote evidence-based policies and best practices leading to meaningful careers as well as disability entrepreneurship opportunities?
Alex will introduce legislation that provides special small business funding and tax credit for families that start businesses for their children with disabilities as well provide additional funding for any businesses that hire people with disabilities.
ACCESS & INCLUSION: Whether or not you have a formal platform, what specific plans do you have to incorporate the voices of people with disabilities into your decision-making processes, if elected? What steps, if any, have you taken to make your campaign accessible for people with disabilities and to ensure that our voices are heard?
My events have been held outdoors, via zoom, and phone calls. I am using text messaging to connect with voters. I also hold events in buildings that are accessible regardless of ability.
FIGHTING STIGMAS: If elected, what will be your plan to fight stigmas, highlight the disability community, and promote higher expectations for success?
My Senate staff will be from a cross section of people capabilities and abilities. My platform has since day 1 put the issues of the disabled community at the front of my platform.
OTHER KEY ISSUES: What additional policies and priorities, other than those already discussed above, do you plan to focus on to improve the lives of people with disabilities? If you have yet to develop them, what is your plan to learn about disability issues?
In addition to the policies and priorities discussed in Question 1, I also plan to introduce legislation that would provide substantial funding to local communities through the Infrastructure bill that would focus on accessibility issues across the board.
People with disabilities will be part of my Senate staff and we will hold town halls that specifically deal with the issues of the disabled community.
RespectAbility is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that fights stigmas and advances opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community. View more coverage of 2022 candidates.