What you need to know about the state budget and the school funding lawsuit
As you have heard, last week the PA House voted down Governor Wolf’s proposed budget package by a vote of 127-73 (118 Rs and 9 Ds opposed, 73 Ds supported) See how your lawmaker voted here. This was an unusual vote because legislative leaders only permitted a vote on the revenue package and did not allow members to vote on a whole budget, which includes how the money would be spent.
Voting for taxes is tough, and it is even tougher when you don’t get to show people what the money will buy (funds for schools, libraries, seniors etc) and you know you are being used in a political stunt. In spite of this, Democrats showed that they are willing to put up the votes needed to get this done so that only a small portion of Republicans will have to join them. So CHEERS to those willing to take a stand and vote for revenues (including the widely supported shale tax) so PA can fund schools and close the structural budget gap. CHEERS to the people who kept their campaign promises to support schools and tax the shale.
And JEERS to the people who stood up and said they couldn’t vote for the budget because they couldn’t see how it would be spent. Since the vote was ONLY for the revenue side of the budget, these elected officials showed us that they either didn’t understand what they were voting on or that they willfully misstated what was going on. We should be able expect better than that from PA’s elected officials.
Apparently we can’t leave them alone for even a minute! It is clear that the only thing that will force lawmakers to move their positions is MORE public pressure and direct contact from voters at home. Governor Wolf has made significant concessions on key issues, but continues to stand firm that PA must close the $2 billion structural deficit in its budget and restore funding to education to pre-Corbett levels this year so we can move toward getting schools on track in the future.
Lawmakers must step up and support a budget that is restore $410 million in new state funding for schools and adopt the formula recommended by the Basic Education Funding Commission. They must also support a reasonable revenue package to ensure we have the funding to do it and we aren’t short changing kids because lawmakers are too afraid to cast tough votes.
Here are three things you can do, and we need you to seriously consider doing all three, please.
Second: Please write a letter to the editor of your local paper, with this message. Click HERE for everything you need, including points and a handy tool that helps you submit the letter.
Third: (harder, but easier than you think and super important!). We also need someone from YOUR district to meet with your state lawmakers in in the next 10 days. If you are willing to meet with your lawmaker, click HERE to sign up and get started. We will help you with each step, including how to request an appointment and how to have a good meeting. We usually focus on things you can do from home, because we know everyone is busy, but this is a critical time for school funding.
Speaking of “Thorough and Efficient” Funding for schools.
Education Voters will be hosting a short conference call to provide recent updates on the status of the lawsuit from the attornies and a chance for Q & A. Everything you need to know about the appeal to the Supreme Court will be covered in the first 20 minutes and folks who want to know more can stay on longer to ask their questions.
Thank you for your support of public education.