FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Rep. Mike Sturla
State Rep. James Roebuck
Democratic Chairman, Education Committee
Democratic Policy Committee investigates Pa. education funding cutsDemocratic Policy Committee investigates PA education funding cuts
HARRISBURG, Feb. 16 – Members of the House Democratic Policy Committee heard from education experts and advocates at a public hearing at the state Capitol Thursday regarding the proposed cuts to education funding in the state budget as well as the overall impact of Gov. Tom Corbett’s nearly $1 billion cut to schools in 2011, said Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster.
State Rep. Jim Roebuck, D-Phila., Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, served as the hearing’s co-chairman.
Sturla said school districts across the state are still reeling from last year’s budget cuts, and that many districts exhausted reserve accounts and were forced to increase local taxes to meet growing costs. The governor’s budget proposal this year calls for defunding the highly successful Accountability Block Grant program and overall funding for schools at last year’s reduced level.
“Education is the foundation on which our commonwealth builds the rest of its priorities,” Sturla said. “However, for two years Governor Corbett has demonstrated his lack of understanding that without adequate and equitable tools, our students are fighting an uphill battle to succeed. Our state will not fully recover economically if we continue to underfund education.”
"The governor's plan would not prepare our young people to succeed – it would cut off access to higher education for many families and burden others with more debt due to the steep tuition increases that will result if state funding is cut again," Roebuck said. "Ironically, the governor also said in his budget speech that businesses need well-trained workers, which is true -- but to achieve that goal, we need a good education system that is funded properly, not a second round of cuts."
Those testifying at Thursday’s hearing included: Pedro Rivera, superintendent, School District of Lancaster and president of the Pennsylvania League of Urban Schools; Kendra Trail, superintendent, Southern Fulton School District and at-large director of the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools; a panel from the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials: Jennifer Hoover-Vogel, legislative & research coordinator, and Joseph Otto, chief financial officer/board secretary, William Penn School District; Baruch Kintisch, director of policy advocacy, Education Law Center; Susan Gobreski, executive director, Education Voters Pennsylvania; and Michael Crossey, president, Pennsylvania State Education Association.
For more information about the Policy Committee and hearing materials, visit www.pahouse.com/PolicyCommittee.