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Budgets are statements of values and priorities

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Advocates, the public and the state legislature have now had a month to review the various proposals in Governor Corbett’s budget that touch upon public education.  We at A+ Schools have some concerns [Money, money, money – February 11, 2013 Eblast] about the choices being made in this budget.  While there are some modest increases to basic education funding, real questions exist about needed resources for special education students, funding our pension obligations and one time funding from the sale of state liquor stores.  We thought we’d share some additional thinking on the budget from statewide partners who like us, are fighting to ensure that there is a more equitable distribution of resources to our students with the greatest needs.

From the Education Law Center (ELC PA):  ELC PA has put out a great report called Funding, Formulas, and Fairness that calls for rational funding formula to be used to fund public schools in the state.  The report is guided by the principle that “All students deserve an equal opportunity to learn and achieve success in school and beyond; and some students, especially students with disabilities, students learning English, and students in poverty, require additional resources to have these same opportunities.”  Their key finding is that Pennsylvania needs to go back to using the funding formula that has been abandoned in the last 3 budget proposals to provide students with the resources they need based on the needs of the local community.  “A good education funding system takes these inequities into account and aims to distribute funding fairly in order to ensure the quality of a child’s education does not depend on the zip code in which he or she lives.” We agree.

From the Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC): EPLC has held a couple of forums across the state dissecting the Governor’s budget  [Pennsylvania Education Experts Dissect Corbett’s Proposed Schools Budget].  There are some significant issues with the budget as they see it.  The main issues are the contingencies built into the budget around new funding sources and cost savings assumptions related to changing the way the state funds its pension obligation.  As Sharon Ward of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center said in a media release, “The governor’s budget does little to reduce the trend of disinvestment in Pennsylvania schools and communities. It relies heavily on speculative and one-time sources of funding, and proposes expensive new corporate tax breaks that will continue to shift costs to local taxpayers. The budget fails to provide sustainable funding to reduce class sizes in public schools, keep college affordable for middle-class students, and ensure working families can obtain basic health care.” EPLC has also been tracking the various committee hearings happening in Harrisburg.  You can read more here.

From the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center (PBPC): PBPC has put together a great analysis of the Governor’s Budget that goes into detail about the choices being made by policy makers about what to spend and what to cut.  Read more here.

As counter proposals and changes to the budget start to be made public, we’ll pass that news along.  Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to get the most up to date news and notes about the budget.