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Governor Corbett’s budget cuts funding for public education

03.31.11

APRIL 2011, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

Governor Corbett’s budget cuts funding for public education

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSABE@AOL.COM

REGION, March 17th- Pennsylvania Republican Governor Tom Corbett presented his State Budget Proposal on March 8th and it included slashing funding for programs for children in classrooms across the state.

Mr. Corbett’s $27 billion spending plan cuts more than $1 billion from public education at all levels, reduces state support for some public
colleges and universities by 50 percent and calls for a freeze on compensation for school district employees.

According to Ted Kirsch, President of the Pennsylvania Federation of Teachers (AFT) Union, which is affiliated with the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) in Washington DC, Governor Tom Corbett has made it clear that his vision for Pennsylvania is a sharp departure from the values and priorities that most Pennsylvanians embrace and his plan to cut basic education aid to school districts will result in many educators being laid-off and the raising of property taxes. “The governor is merely shifting a state tax burden onto local governments and school districts,” stated Mr. Kirsch.

Mr. Kirsch added after taking more than $1 billion away from public education, Governor Corbett did not stop with those cuts. He also supports expansion of vouchers that could drain another billion dollars a year from the state’s neighborhood public schools. Local school districts will lose control and funding, which instead will be given to unaccountable private schools and the corporations that operate many of them.

“The teachers and staff who work in Pennsylvania’s schools understand that our state faces severe budget iusses, including an extimated $4 billion revenue shortfall in the coming year as federal funding that helped us survive the recession comes to an end. But necessary sacrifices should be shared sacrifices. Through its cuts to education and other essential services, the budget presented asks much from those who are least able to shoulder more burdens, and it asks very little from the wealthy and corporate interests, shifting corporate tax obligations to residents across the state who will be asked to pay more to send their kids to college as well as more in local
property taxes,” Mr. Kirsch told the newspaper.

Legislation introduced in 2011 would allow parents to not pay their local school taxes that fund local public school system and receive an voucher that will allow their children to be enrolled in private and religious schools.

The legislation, Pennsylvania Senate Bill 1, will allow vouchers and take funding from the local public school system.

“Senate Bill 1 lacks basic accountability measures to protect the taxpayers’ investment and to measure student achievement. The legislation contains no provisions to require private schools receiving taxpayer dollars to account for the funds,” stated Sharon Kletzien, education specialist of the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, which believes the school choice plans have shortcomings.

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