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PSEA Suggests New State Revenues for Education Budget

While committees in the state House and Senate continue to debate Governor Tom Corbett's $27.1 billion budget for 2012-13, the state's largest teachers' union is alarmed about spending for basic education.

The Corbett budget actually calls for a $338 million boost in education spending to $9.9 billion but nearly all of that increase goes to meeting mandatory pension payments. This follows an $818 million cut in basic education funding in the current budget.

In a report titled, "Sounding the Alarm," the PSEA suggests that the public education system in Pennsylvania is nearing a financial crisis. Union spokesman Wythe Keever says that if the state does not act, the problem will get worse.

"Students are going to continue to suffer," Keever said. "They will feel the consequences beginning with low-wealth school districts but gradually spreading to more affluent suburban districts."

Keever says that the state should implement a Marcellus Shale extraction tax and direct that money towards the education system. Keever also suggests that the state close the "Delaware Loop Hole" that allows Pennsylvania companies to not pay corporate income taxes by incorporating in Delaware. Those suggestions have not gained traction in the past.

Corbett's budget also ends accountability block grants which funded programs like full-day kindergarten, after-school tutoring, and supported small class sizes.

"That funding was eliminated, and Governor Corbett has not proposed to restore it," Keever said. "As a result, many school districts are looking at additional cut backs beyond the devastating cut backs that were already made last year."

Keever says the effects of the budget cuts are spreading and the cuts are ongoing and the report's suggestions could help the state and mitigate the strain on the public schooling system.