Some Dems irked at linking Pa. state store sales to school funding

    Critics see an inconsistency in Gov. Tom Corbett’s plan to create education grants with liquor privatization funds.

    The Pennsylvania Capitol is where the sausage is made, or so the saying goes.

    So perhaps it makes sense that, with so many big proposals to negotiate, there’s been a lot of talk about links — including the Corbett liquor privatization plan that’s been linked to education funding. The governor’s proposal would put money raised through privatization toward one-time grants for schools — a program called “Passport to Learning.”

    State Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Montgomery, is not a fan of that connection.

    “I mind the linkage,” she said. “Passport to Learning … sell off our liquor stores.”

    “Well then we might disagree about the linkage, but I can think of no better way if you’re going to have that asset, where to put it than if you’re going to put it into education,” replied state Education Secretary Ron Tomalis during a recent hearing.

    Democrats say the governor’s proposal is hypocritical, since he has said that one-time funding sources shouldn’t be put toward education because it makes schools rely on money that will go away.

    Dean says she doesn’t mind that education is funded with grants – what bothers her is that the administration links the sale of the liquor stores to education because funding schools is a constitutional mandate.”I get a bit of a chuckle when I hear certain members of the education groups be concerned about this money going away in four years because public education has been about grant funding for decades,” he added.

    If the state stores are going to be sold off, public schools should get the one-time windfall, Tomalis said.

    He said the administration would make sure that any “Passport to Learning” grants are used for one-time expenses, not annual costs.

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