As Gov. Tom Corbett prepares his state budget proposal, Pennsylvania House Democrats are calling on him to make education a higher priority.
The latest call for more attention to education has been a constant refrain since 2011, when Corbett’s first budget made deep cuts to schools funding.
Republicans argue the reductions are the direct result of the disappearance of federal stimulus dollars that had been used to prop up education budgets under former Gov. Ed Rendell.
In 2011, lawmakers also abandoned use of a schools funding formula intended to smooth out funding disparities between school districts. And House Minority Leader Frank Dermody is pressing for a vote on a plan to return to such a formula.
“This resolution would give us the information we need to determine the true scope of Corbett’s cuts, while also giving us a road map for reversing the damage done by those cuts,” said Dermody, D-Allegheny.
State Rep. James Roebuck, ranking Democrat on the House Education Committee, says Pennsylvania is among three states that doesn’t use such an education funding formula.
“We urge Gov. Corbett to make a course correction in this year’s budget and really make our children the priority that they should be,” said Roebuck of Philadelphia.
Meanwhile, a separate, Republican proposal to develop a new funding formula awaits a vote by a House committee.
The governor’s budget secretary already has said cuts aren’t really an option this year. But with an estimated deficit as much as $1.4 billion, it’s unlikely education will see a big hike in spending in Corbett’s proposal.