Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett's long-awaited budget address this morning contained some tough proposals for school districts in the Commonwealth. As part of what he called the budget’s four core principles—“fiscal discipline, limited government, free enterprise and reform”—Corbett’s budget would cut about $550 million from basic education spending.
Perkiomen Valley School District’s own 2011-12 proposed budget——is still a work in progress. Corbett’s decision on education funding has been an omnipresent question mark during budget presentations thus far. Superintendent Dr. Clifford Rogers released this statement regarding the governor’s budget address:
“While we are all very aware of the realities of our current economy, I am still disappointed that the Governor chose to ignore the findings of the costing-out study conducted by the state legislature which determined that the state was underfunding education, as today he proposed rolling the basic education subsidies back to 2008-2009 levels.
“Even with the mandate concessions recommended in today’s speech, this places an unfair burden back on local taxpayers to meet the state and federal requirements and makes the local work of providing an outstanding education for all students more difficult.
“In practice, PVSD will respond within the resources available to provide the best balance between opportunities for students and prudent fiscal responsibility. In fact, responding to a prediction of these rollbacks, in our preliminary proposed budget, we have recognized cutbacks in state subsidies that closely match what was announced today. As actual figures are provided to PV from the state, we will continue to refine our budget for the 2011-2012 school year.”
Corbett further said he believed taxpayers should vote on any property tax increases that were more than the rate of inflation.
“When you’re spending someone else’s money, it’s easier to say yes than no,” he said. “If school boards can’t say no, maybe the taxpayers will.”
In his speech, the governor also advocated for school choice and a one-year salary freeze for public school employees.
“Our calculations show (freezes) could save school districts $400 million,” Corbett said.
A press release also noted, “education reform means cutting bureaucratic strings to empower local school districts to impose economic furloughs, increase bid size limits, alter advertising requirements and eliminate support for master’s degree salary ‘bumps.’”