PSEA President: Corbett's Budget Fails Pennsylvania Students - Again
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(HARRISBURG, Feb. 5, 2013) – For the third consecutive year, Gov. Tom Corbett proposed a state budget that fails Pennsylvania's students, ignores the school funding crisis he created, and uses public school students as bargaining chips to achieve an ideological agenda, the president of Pennsylvania's largest school employee union said today.
Mike Crossey, president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, pointed out that the governor's spending plan uses gimmicks and false choices that will only worsen the school funding crisis Corbett created by slashing nearly $1 billion in public school funding in his last two budgets.
“If the governor was serious about addressing the school funding crisis he created two years ago, he would target sustainable funding to our students rather than use their education as leverage to promote his ideological agenda,” Crossey said.
Crossey explained that the governor's proposal to add $90 million in public school funding still leaves a massive funding gap, which school districts are being forced to fill with painful program cuts and property tax increases.
“The governor hasn't even requested a fraction of the resources the public schools need,” Crossey said. “He has cut nearly $1 billion from public schools since he took office. Now, it's time for him to make restoring those cuts a priority.
“This proposal is not only shortsighted and unsustainable, but it also treats the education of our children as a pawn in some larger political game. Gov. Corbett should restore funding to our schools because it's the right thing to do, not because he thinks it will advance his political agenda.”
Corbett's budget plan includes a provision to tie education funds to the one-time sale of Pennsylvania's wine and spirits shops. It also includes unconstitutional changes to pension systems for teachers, nurses, law enforcement, and others that will cost taxpayers more than the current system.
“Pensions are a promise to public employees who teach our children, keep our streets safe, and care for the sick, elderly, and disabled,” Crossey said. “Just because the state and school districts chose to reduce their payments and underfund the system for a decade doesn't mean public employees' hard-earned retirement savings should be reduced.”
“The school funding crisis began two years ago, with the governor's unprecedented funding cuts,” Crossey said. “Pennsylvania's students don't have time to waste with the governor's political game playing. We need to address this crisis, because it is getting worse every day.
“We have students crammed into classrooms with large class sizes, struggling to get individual attention. Critical programs have been cut. They are being forced to pay for extracurricular activities. And now the governor's solution is to make their educational opportunities dependent on how many bottles of liquor are sold by for-profit companies.”
To date, public schools across Pennsylvania have slashed critical educational programs, increased class sizes, and put the education of students at risk. In the wake of Corbett's unprecedented cuts, 70 percent of school districts have increased class sizes, 44 percent have cut programs that work for students, 35 percent have slashed tutoring programs, and the jobs of 20,000 educators have been eliminated.
A PSEA research report, Sounding the Alarm, describes systemic, long-term problems in state public education policy and indicates that the school funding crisis will continue to worsen unless funding is restored. Learn more at www.psea.org/soundingthealarm.
“Gov. Corbett hasn't proposed anything that will solve the problems his last two budgets have caused in this state,” Crossey said. “Fortunately, this is the first step in a long budget process. We're looking forward to working with legislators in both parties to craft a state budget that is fair to taxpayers, students, and all Pennsylvanians.”
Crossey is a special education teacher in the Keystone Oaks School District. An affiliate of the National Education Association, PSEA represents approximately 187,000 future, active and retired teachers and school employees, and health care workers in Pennsylvania.