Pa. Republicans want to use federal school aid to help state pensions

    Senate Republican leaders in Pennsylvania say school aid recently approved by Congress should be used not for schools, but the public pension fund.

    When Congress passed a federal medical funding bill last week, lawmakers also approved a multi-billion dollar aid package for local school districts. That gives Pennsylvania an unanticipated $380 million for education spending.

    State Senate Republicans want Rendell to substitute that money for the $200 million boost this year’s state budget provides for the basic education subsidy. Caucus spokesman Erik Arneson says the Republicans want to redirect the state money, and use it to help pay for pension costs.

    “So we think that it makes more sense to reallocate the $200 million to the pensions, which are significantly under funded,” he says. “Even in this year’s budget we put less into the pension systems than the actuaries recommended we put in.”

    The Senate Republicans say they’re worried all the federal money for schools will create a billion-plus dollar cliff, leading to budget problems when the funding disappears next year.

    Rendell’s spokesman declined to comment on the GOP proposal, saying the governor will respond later this week.

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