Governor promotes education positions

Gov. Tom Corbett promoted his education proposals and the need to reinforce science and technology training Monday as he toured the Carnegie Science Center.

"We're in that budget season ... a fun time, as you all know," he observed as he highlighted the increases in education funding he has proposed in the spending plan due to be enacted by July 1. It's also election season, and the Shaler Republican questioned some of the plans of his challengers.

"What I hear from the Democrats is that they want to spend more and more money," he said as he dismissed their critiques of the school spending he's presided over in the first years of the administration he'd like to extend this November.

The Democratic candidates have been relentless in assailing cuts in education funding that occurred early in his tenure. The administration has rebutted that criticism blaming cuts to school districts in the past to the expiration of the federal stimulus spending that coincided with his first budgets.

"We're investing more state money in education than at any time in the history of the commonwealth," he said during a news conference that followed his survey of some of the high- and low-tech elements of the center's attractions.

Mr. Corbett used the settings as a backdrop for a call to encourage excellence in training in the STEM disciplines -- science, technology, engineering and math. While noting that his administration has increased spending for the schools' basic education subsidy in past budgets, he talked up a proposal to funnel a $341 million increase in the next fiscal year through block grants designed to give school districts more flexibility in spending the state dollars.

The governor's pitch at the science center event overlapped the points his wife, first lady Susan Corbett, makes in a new campaign commercial intended to burnish his education credentials. Those appeals come as the governor continues to face daunting poll results. A January survey by Franklin & Marshall College found that just 23 percent of the registered voters surveyed thought Mr. Corbett's job performance had been excellent or good, while 72 percent rated his performance poor or fair. Among those who held a negative view of his administration, education was second to economic issues in the voter's assessments of the state's most pressing problems.

Politics editor James O'Toole: or 412-263-1562.

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