Advocacy Groups Lobby For More School Funding

by Andrea Sears, Public News Service
for The Post Publications

Advocacy Groups Lobby For More School Funding

Pennsylvania’s Choice advocacy groups assembled Tuesday in the Capitol rotunda

HARRISBURG PA – A coalition of groups that advocate for consumers, educators, and workers gathered Tuesday (Jan. 31, 2017) in the Capitol rotunda in Harrisburg and criticized the state’s tax system as being “upside down.” They claimed it asks those with low and moderate incomes to pay more than their fair share, and said they were launching an alternative labeled as the “Pennsylvania’s Choice” 2017 budget campaign.

The campaign hopes to convince state legislators to institute a new tax on income from wealth, such as interest and dividends, while keeping taxes on wages at current levels. “They can raise adequate new revenue to support the communities and the schools, or they can choose to go down the same old road, where they say that there isn’t enough money and continue to cut,” Susan Spicka, executive director of the Education Voters of Pennsylvania, said.

Spicka implored lawmakers to ask “people who have done very, very well over the past eight to ten years to pay a little bit more, so that we can build the kinds of communities that we need to have.”

The state is currently headed for a $600 million deficit in this fiscal year, Spica said, and up to $1.7 billion in the year that starts July 1. Gov. Tom Wolf is expected to ask for a small increase in education funding when he presents his budget next week, but she added the state must do more to help underfunded school districts.

“We can get them up to a level where they can provide their students with the same services and the same opportunities that the well-funded school districts provide for their students,” explained Spicka. The coalition estimates that could cost about $400 million dollars a year, over six to seven years.

Photo from Public News Service