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Politics & Government

Democrats Continue Fight for Education Funding

In the final days of state budget negotiations, state House Democrats aren't letting up on their push for an increase in public schools funding.

Democratic Representatives Eddie Day Pashinski of Luzerne County and James Roebuck of Philadelphia headed to the governor's office today to lobby the Corbett administration to earmark more money for public education. They had petitions containing some 15,000 signatures, but they were met at the door by Education Secretary Ron Tomalis and that was as far as they were able to get.

Democrats are eyeing about $300 million the administration is projecting to have left over by the end of next fiscal year. The three men stood in the hall and debated. Pashinski expressed indignation that charter and cyber charter schools could be "overpaid" by their public school districts, while Tomalis defended those schools as public.

The Corbett administration argues public education has received more state dollars since the state started "backfilling" the budget holes created when school districts stopped receiving federal stimulus funds, but neither Roebuck of Philadelphia nor Pashinski accepted such a notion.

"We're actually spending less than we did before the stimulus dollars came in. We need to destroy the myth of increased education funding — and that's what it is, a myth," said Roebuck.

Pashinski added, "Maybe the busing went up. Maybe the utilities went up. Maybe the cost of the building went up, but the money for the kid, no. That has not gone up."

"They can't allow $300 million to sit there for next year. You gotta take, let's say $150 million of that, and put it into the accountability block grants which will then preserve your pre-K, and your all-day kindergarten," argued Pashinski.