School Spending is the Issue

My letter to the editor in yesterday’s York Daily Record addresses some inaccuracies about education spending in Pennsylvania.

Your editorial on education funding (“Funding formula a good place to start,” May 2) unfortunately gets some facts wrong. For starters, it repeats the myth that the state government provided 50 percent of school districts’ revenue in the 1970s. The truth is, local tax dollars have always exceeded state dollars, with the state share peaking at 45 percent in 1975, according to data from the Pa. Department of Education.

It also notes that the percentage of funding from the state ranks low compared to other states. However, the funding per student mirrors the national average. The reason the state funding percentage is lower is because Pennsylvania’s school districts collect far more in local taxes than other states—$3,000 per student more than the national average.

Overall, Pennsylvania school districts receive more than $15,000 in total revenue per student, ranking 10th in the nation, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Voters and lawmakers are calling for property tax relief not because state taxes are too low, but because school spending—contrary to many reports—is exceptionally high. And growing pension costs are pushing education costs even higher. Reigning in such out-of-control state spending is a critical step to addressing the property tax issue.

I addressed these facts about Pennsylvania’s state spending on education in a longer post here.