Cigarette tax helps with funding the School District of Philadelphia

After months of anticipation, a bill was signed into law that gave authority to the city of Philadelphia to enact a $2-per-pack cigarette tax. The School District of Philadelphia has lost $608 million, or $3,007 per student in education program funding since Gov. Corbett took office in 2011. School funding for Philadelphia on a whole has been cut by $1.13 billion, or $5,619 per student. According to district officials, the additional revenue collected from the cigarette tax will generate $49 million, helping to prevent further cuts to vital staff, services and resources.

Members of the Philadelphia Delegation, including Chairwoman Cherelle Parker and Rep. W. Curtis Thomas, acknowledged the cigarette tax was never intended to be the silver bullet needed to solve Philadelphia’s educational fiscal crisis. However, the Corbett administration’s decision to abandon the public school funding formula enacted in 2008-09 and the elimination of the charter reimbursement line item, among other poor choices, created a dependency on local resources to adequately fund public schools – most recently the city’s additional 1 percent sales tax extension passed last year.