On “Schools that Teach” Tour, Governor Wolf Outlines Two Paths for the Future of Pennsylvania Schools

February 10, 2016

Harrisburg, PA – Today, Governor Tom Wolf made two “Schools that Teach” tour stops 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.

The governor discussed the two paths Pennsylvania can take at Clairton Elementary School in the Clairton School District and Altoona Area Junior High School in the Altoona Area School District.

“We have a choice in Harrisburg,” Governor Wolf said today. “We can choose a path that funds our schools, eliminates our deficit, and puts Pennsylvania back on track. But if we choose to continue to ignore reality, we will be forced to make drastic cuts to education and in turn face billions in local property tax increases.”

Governor Wolf’s 2016-17 Budget proposes that the state take its rightful share of the responsibility for funding our schools with real sources of revenue. The governor’s proposed 2016-17 Budget provides for a $200 million (3.3 percent) increase in the Basic Education Subsidy, a $50 million (4.6 percent) increase in the Special Education Subsidy, and a $60 million (30.5 percent) increase in high¬-quality early childhood education.

If the legislature fails to recognize the fiscal crisis facing Pennsylvania, and continues to refuse to work with Governor Wolf to honestly eliminate the deficit, Pennsylvania’s schools will face the consequences of our deficit immediately. Districts will be forced to lay off thousands of educators. Classrooms will become increasingly crowded. Programs like technical education, special education, and Head Start will see cuts. And pre-kindergarten will be eliminated for tens of thousands of Pennsylvania children.

If the General Assembly does not approve a responsible plan to solve this crisis, nearly three quarters of Pennsylvania homeowners will see their already-too-high property taxes skyrocket even further. A failure to budget responsibly is an acceptance of this massive property tax increase. In the last year alone, 83 school districts increased property taxes above the index because Harrisburg didn’t produce a responsible budget, and another 175 school districts are contemplating additional tax increases this year – for the same reason.

“All of this tax shifting is not sustainable, and it will only continue to squeeze families and seniors if we do not stop passing the buck on to local communities,” said Governor Wolf. “It is time to fund our schools and face our financial reality. It is time to give Pennsylvania the bright future it deserves.”

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