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Education Secretary Says House Republican Budget Will Drive Up Property Taxes, Reverse Gains in Student Achievement

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2009-07-11 06:27:44     
Pennsylvania Department of Education

Education Secretary Gerald L. Zahorchak responded to today's announcement of a House Republican budget plan by releasing the following statement:

"The education budget presented by the House Republicans is even more devastating for local taxpayers and students than the terrible version passed by their counterparts in the State Senate. Both would cut more than $1 billion in state funds out of the Governor's education budget plan. Both would drive up local property taxes on senior citizens and other struggling homeowners. And both would mean drastic cuts to programs that are successfully increasing achievement in our schools.

"The House Republican budget follows in the footsteps of the Senate Republicans by gutting $729 million out of the state school funding formula. Both caucuses would use shell games to temporarily fill this hole with federal stimulus funds - the same stimulus funds that are intended to help us keep making progress in implementing our school funding formula. And when the federal funds expire in just three years, the Republican plan would create a nearly three-quarters-of-a-billion-dollar hole in the state's education budget - leading to massive property tax hikes, program cuts, or both.

"In addition, the House Republican budget goes even further than the Senate Republican plan in making deep cuts to several of our most valuable programs in helping students learn. Their plan cuts the Accountability Block Grant program by $71 million - a 26 percent cut that could mean the loss of full-day kindergarten for 13,700 children and larger classes for nearly 3,500 young learners. And their plan cuts the state's successful tutoring program in half - eliminating the reading and math support that more than 180,000 Pennsylvania students rely on.

"The House Republicans say that their budget increases education funding by an average of 11 percent for all districts, which is seriously misleading. Here are the facts: the Republican budgets make massive cuts - period. Meanwhile, the federal stimulus package increases federal funding for low-income student grants and special education grants. These mandatory increases in federal funds cannot make up for their dramatic cuts. One in four Pennsylvania schools cannot draw down the federal funding for low-income students. Moreover, even those districts that can use these funds are extremely limited in how they can spend the federal money. And just like the rest of the stimulus funding for education, these resources will disappear when the stimulus funds expire.

"The bottom line is that the House and Senate Republican budgets do nothing more than shift the burden from the state onto the backs of local property taxpayers. That's a plan that Pennsylvania cannot afford and that reverses all of the academic gains our educators have worked so hard to achieve over the last six years - and which are so vital to our commonwealth's future economic success."

CONTACT: Michael Race
(717) 783-9802

Specialized in: Education Secretary - House Republican Budget - Drive Up - Property Taxes - Reverse Gains - Student Achievement
URL: http://www.pa.gov
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