As a teacher, I am aware of the cuts our districts have experienced. So I was surprised when I received a newsletter from Rep. Eli Evankovich claiming that Gov. Tom Corbett has increased education funding. According to the bar graph in this newsletter, it seems the amount of funding has increased, but this newsletter continues to whitewash the truth.
Under Gov. Ed Rendell, total education funding increased every year — but the portion of state dollars allotted to education didn’t. In 2009 and 2010 the portion of state dollars paying for basic education funding decreased and was replaced by federal stimulus dollars. The decrease in state money was due to the increase in federal stimulus money.
The stimulus was a temporary infusion to let states replace certain expenses with federal money to ease the effects of the recession. This let the state spend state money allotted to education in other areas, such as unemployment benefits, to help Pennsylvanians. The total dollars going to education remained the same because the difference was made up with federal funds.
Much of the “increase” in spending under Mr. Corbett is due to a legally mandated increase of $100 million in state payments to the teachers’ pension fund to make up for the large deficit — a deficit created when the state stopped paying into it. This “increase” never went to schools to help their budget deficits.
The truth is Gov. Corbett has reduced the total amount of money flowing to our schools, which affects the quality of education our students receive.