Thursday, April 7, 2011

It's worse than I thought...budget cutting, and the miseducation of the House GOP

Earlier this week, the House Majority Leader spoke to the Capitol media about his caucus' desire to restore some of the higher education funding slashed in this year's budget by Gov. Corbett.

Good, maybe that's because not only would thousands of college kids suffer, but many local economies and communities would be decimated if students disappeared and schools were shuttered. Incidentally, many of those communities are in republican districts. But his caucus also is endorsing the philosophy of robbing Peter to pay Paul by targeting DPW.

Also he wouldn't commit to reinstating any of the $1.1 billion cut from public education. His flip comments included that his caucus' top priority is to change the state basic ed formula so that its cuts hit Philadelphia and other urban school districts proportionally as hard as they do suburban and rural districts (Capitolwire, Turzai says House GOP backs Corbett on leasing, budget spending total, 4/5/11).

Those comments border on absurd.

After viewing the Leader's press conference, I'm left thinking that he doesn't understand budgeting, or really how to read a spreadsheet.

Under the Gov. Corbett's proposal the Leader's 2 school districts suffer a $163 cut (Pine-Richland SD) and a $166 cut (North Allegheny SD). The rest of the state should be so lucky as to sustain cuts like those. 

A quick look at the data available on the Democratic Appropriations website (I checked the GOP website, and no spreadsheets were available) demonstrates that the p/pupil cut in Philadelphia is about $1400, more than double the state average ($584). Even more shocking is that 4 districts actually receive LARGER p/pupil cuts than Philadelphia. But I'm pretty sure the House GOP is NOT recommending raiding the funds for Philly to help Chester Upland manage their $2600 p/pupil cut.

There are only 2 things the Legislature could do to worsen the atrocious cuts made to public education than what the governor introduced. #1 – shift funds out of the districts that need it most, and balance the budget on the backs of the working poor. And #2 – implement a school voucher program that will do little to improve educational outcomes and will cost the Commonwealth a billion dollars.

These House GOP-backed policies are shortsighted and not only fail to address the true problem, but would intensify it.