Pennsylvania budget must be passed by July 1 according to the state constitution. Corbett has never gone past the deadline. The Governor will not release more funds for public education if he cannot make damaging changes to the public employee pensions. If that sounds familiar, it is because just last year he refused to give funds and schools in Philadelphia opened in a dire state in the midst of gross layoffs and increased class size partnered with slashed support services for all students. Today, he is proposing to enact a $140 million dollar cut in education funding to the entire state. Since Philadelphia has no control over taxes it will have to absorb the expected $16 million dollar deficit. The rest of Pennsylvania plans to raise property taxes in 75% of the school districts. Remember budget cuts in affluent districts cause the flu and in poor districts it leads to pneumonia or death.
If this is not enough, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied the request for the SRC to impose work rule changes. This “win” comes with the threat of the SRC and District to enforce reforms under the Distressed School District Law. You can review the actual law here. Despite the fact that the state has an obligation to fully fund and support a school district under its direct control. Of course, Upland Chester School District is an example of how being under state control is no guarantee of fair funding and that once the said district is released, it is usually returned less fiscally sound than before.
There are many organizations from Philadelphia and the surrounding counties and cities sitting in the Governor’s office and we can still do more to support those efforts.
What can citizens of Pennsylvania do? They can call and contact Harrisburg by making as many phone calls, tweets, and emails as possible before Monday. And fully realize the Democratic caucus has not full stood behind the suggested ideas to improve PA educational funding. The following should be stated during the calls:
- The charter school reimbursement should be reinstated
- You are a voter
- The cigarette tax ($2) should be back on the table
- Medicaid should be expanded
- Shale tax should be enforced
- The privatization of the Liquor Control Board should not occur (As it stands it provides $500 million in state funds)
- The budget must include 241 million in Basic Education Subsidy
Find your elected official here. And use the numbers below. If you want to go to Harrisburg to make your presence known please click here for transportation arrangements (contact PCCY, Public Citizens for Children and Youth)
- Governor Corbett (717) 787-2500
- Senator Pileggi (717) 787-4712 – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Rep. Adolph (717) 787-1248 – email@example.com
- Rep. Turzai (717) 772-9943 – firstname.lastname@example.org
If this budget gets pushed through in its present state it will lead to more layoffs, class sizes of 40, and a less equitable education.
All of our children deserve better. All of those who work in education deserve to have a contract and a pension, and to work in an environment that is not filled with anxiety and chaos. Most importantly, remember all of these threats and funding cuts during the elections in the fall. These are elected officials who have a duty to their voting constituents to represent our best interest.