BLOG: A Commonsense Severance Tax To Fund Our Schools

By: Pedro A. Rivera, Secretary of Education

February 19, 2016

Last June’s unanimous passage of a funding formula by the bipartisan Basic Education Funding Commission was cause for celebration for Pennsylvania’s schools, parents, students, and communities.

Governor Tom Wolf toured Alexander B. Goode School in York, and visited with School Administrators, teachers and students on his “Schools that Teach” tour stop to outline the two paths we have for the future of Pennsylvania schools. The commonwealth is at a critical crossroads. We can fund our schools and fix our deficit, or we will be faced with an additional $1 billion in cuts to our schools.

Using a fair and equitable formula would mean education funding could finally be allocated in a balanced way, accounting for the true needs to educate a given student in a given school. However, as beneficial as this formula could be in ensuring that funding is driven out equitably in the commonwealth, a formula means little if there is not adequate funding to support its use.

Governor Wolf has been fighting for historic increases in education funding at all levels since day one. A commonsense severance tax plan would support this investment and help lay the foundation for long-term economic growth in the commonwealth. The governor’s plan will also help ensure our students across the commonwealth have access to a high-quality education to prepare them for college or career.


A fair severance tax on natural gas drillers would provide our schools with a dedicated funding source, help to increase the state’s share of education funding, and reduce the reliance on property taxes to fund our schools.

Pennsylvania is at a crossroads and our state’s leaders need to decide which path the commonwealth will choose. One path invests in education, eliminates the deficit, and puts Pennsylvania back on track to a greater future. The other path, not investing adequately and fairly in education, restricts our state’s future. Failing to invest in education threatens the competitiveness of our workforce, damages our state’s and school districts’ credit ratings, and diminishes the overall quality of life in our communities.

A commonsense severance tax would provide the needed funds to maximize the impact of the bipartisan funding formula, which would help our students continue to progress toward college and career readiness, while also serving as a down payment on the state’s long-term economic growth.



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