When Governor Tom Corbett gave his proposed budget address last Tuesday I breathed a sigh of relief. I was told to expect things to be perhaps worse than the nearly $900 million in cuts sustained by public education last year.
Here in the East Penn School District we lost close to $2 million, with much of that coming from the elimination of the charter school and social security reimbursements.
Upon arriving home from work, I began to search the online articles. I discovered an article in The Morning Call that claimed public education would get a small increase, as the basic education subsidy was raised 3.7 percent. Later that night, I came across articles claiming that education had once again sustained an overall cut although not as bad as last year.
Over the next few days, I learned that the governor has proposed to eliminate a $100 million grant and collapse other independent spending areas into one line item. In addition, some other areas were either level funded or given small reductions.
Confused yet? I tried to save the really confusing stuff for last.
At the meeting of the East Penn School Board Monday night, Dr. Seidenberger mentioned that the Republicans and Democrats had each issued separate reports explaining state funding for education.
I thought to myself: Why the different numbers?
Sure enough, today I came across an article from the Education Policy and Research Center giving a link to a Senate Republican Appropriations Committee spreadsheet and another to a Democratic Appropriations Committee spreadsheet.
The Republican spreadsheet showed mostly flat funding with a small increase, while the Democratic version shows a clear decrease in funding from last year.
So why the difference?
Simply put, the Democratic version took into consideration the elimination of the $100 million block grant while the Republican version did not.
So is the public not supposed to count the elimination of the $100 million block grant or do we include that in the overall mathematics of trying to understand what the state is funding towards public eduction?
Republicans, Democrats and Independents need transparency when it comes to understanding public policy. I call on the governor to end the state of confusion and allow the citizens of this commonwealth to see what his plans for public education really are.