My letter to the editor in the Pocono Record tackles some of the myths about educations spending and Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed tax increase—and why, after the House of Represented rejected his plan by a 0-193 vote, he needs to move on.
Your editorial suggests state lawmakers should “make funding education a top budget priority.” Done. Mission accomplished.
School district funding reached a record high last year at $26.1 billion, according to financial reports. That is a $1 billion increase from 2010-11. State revenue is also nearly $1 billion higher than four years ago.
Amazingly, school districts added $100 million to their reserve funds, and now have $4.1 billion sitting around. Moreover, Pennsylvania ranks in the top 10 states in funding per student, spending $3,000 more than the national average.
In contrast to his rhetoric, Gov. Wolf’s proposed cradle-to-the-grave tax increase harms poor and middle-class families. His 16 percent sales tax and 20 percent income tax increases will be borne by all taxpayers. His highest-in-the-nation severance tax would drive up energy costs for households, including those with little income.
And his plan to tax everything from diapers and day care, college textbooks and school fees, to nursing homes and funerals, would cost some families thousands of dollars per year. Even with the promise of “property tax relief” in the future, the Independent Fiscal Office finds that every income group will pay more in taxes under the Wolf plan.
The state House of Representatives already held a vote on Gov. Wolf’s tax proposal. It received exactly zero votes, even from Democrats.
The reality is, higher taxes will hurt working families and public schools need reform, not more taxpayer dollars. It’s time to abandon Gov. Wolf’s ill-advised tax plan and pass solutions that help.
Our latest chart, below, shows state funding for public schools through the years, including the $10.4 billion in the budget Gov. Wolf just vetoed.