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Friday, May 18, 2012

FY 2012-13 Budget Update

The State Senate recently passed their version of the state budget (SB 1466), which included some restorations of the Governor’s proposed cuts. 

SB 1466 made the following improvements: 
  • Rejected the Governor’s proposal for a new Student Achievement Block Grant that neither supported student achievement nor gave flexibility to school districts.
  • Restored $50 million for the Accountability Block Grant Program, which restores 50% of the Governor’s proposed cut, yet still only 20% of the appropriation made in 2010-2011. 
  • Added $50 million to the Basic Subsidy line item, with the intent that these funds would be distributed to “distressed districts.”
While these additional measures are a move in the right direction, they still do not go far enough!  SB 1466 still has most of the cuts that were enacted in the FY 2011-2012 budget which resulted in increased class size, eliminated programs and eliminated positions in school districts across the state.  In addition, the Senate cut the Child Care Services lines, which support the Child Care Works and Keystone Stars programs, by an additional $8.7 million.  These programs ensure that taxpayers’ investments in child care for working families go to quality programs. 

Recently, there have been new projections indicating that the state’s revenue situation is improving at a significantly higher rate than expected.  We urge the State House build on the Senate’s proposal and restore additional funding to education.

We suggest the following actions:
  • Add $50 million to the Senate-approved funding for Accountability Block Grants, restoring the line item to this year’s level of $100 million (still $150 million below the 2010-2011 budget level).
  • Add at least $50 million for charter school reimbursement support to school districts to begin to restore the cut of $223 million made last summer.
  • Re-structure the charter school formula to reimburse the charter schools for appropriate cost per pupil (approx. $100 million dollars would be available)
  • Provide at least a cost-of-living increase to the Basic Subsidy and Special Education line items, which will help to mitigate the seriously negative effects of last summer’s huge cut in state funding for school districts.
Talking points to support your arguments:
This budget is out of step of with middle-class families who want good schools for their kids.
  • This budget jeopardizes opportunities for the next generation.  Our youngest children will miss out on opportunities to get a head start in life, while older students won’t be able to take advance classes that could prepare them for college.
  • This budget is about choices; funding can be restored.  Pennsylvania needs a balanced approach to the state budget.
Our economy pays the prices for these budget cuts
  • Last year 21,000 jobs were cut from schools across the commonwealth.  Cuts to public universities drive up tuition and cut off the innovation needed to grow our economy and create new jobs.                                                                 
  • People understand the importance of investments in people, communities and our future
  • Cutting teachers is “penny wise and pound foolish” – it causes harmful changes to educational quality and eliminates middle class jobs and harms our communities.
  • These state cuts aren’t preventing tax increases, they are just moving them around – in many cases pushing them to local communities. 
We can shrink the budget gap without on the middle class or hurting our children.  Policymakers should find efficiencies, close tax loopholes and delay corporate tax cuts that have failed to create jobs.
  • Big profitable corporations have gotten billions in state tax cuts and this has not benefited taxpayers in Pennsylvania
  • Corporate tax cuts have no accountability: business tax cuts require no commitment to create jobs.  Pennsylvania can’t afford this.
  • Corporate income taxes are a small share of business expenses, 2-3%
  • Every penny lost to tax cuts and loopholes must be made up with cuts to schools and local services.  An all-cuts approach will only hurt our ability to create jobs and undermine our quality of life.
We all benefit when the state invests in creating strong communities and healthy economy.

  • Investing in families and children is one of the smartest investments that the state can make.  With a productive workforce and stronger communities, the state will get back much more than what they will spend now

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