Gov. Wolf looks to again push for education funding increase

Written by David Payne/Radio Pennsylvania | Feb 10, 2016 3:47 AM

FILE PHOTO: Principal Josh Keene, left, and superintendent Pedro Rivera walk the halls at Lincoln Middle School in Lancaster.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

(Harrisburg) --  Governor Tom Wolf is pushing once again for a boost in education funding in his proposed budget.

The governor is asking for an additional $200 million dollars for K-12 education in the next fiscal year, on top of the more than $370 million he is seeking in the current year's budget. 

Education Secretary Pedro Rivera says it's a firm commitment to education on all levels.

"The governor's committed to investing in education at the state level, so districts are not forced to raise property taxes on hard-working Pennsylvania families and our publicly-supported institutions of higher education are not forced to hike tuition or cut programs," he said.

Rivera adds the budget proposal is a crucial step in boosting Pennsylvania's education system, noting the state has 500 school districts, 173 public charter schools (13 of those are cyber schools), 87 career and technical centers, 29 intermediate units and 14 community colleges.

"Without fair, equitable and sufficient funding, schools face severe uncertainty. School districts will continue to rely on property tax increases. Investments cited in school district funding impact plans are in jeopardy," he says. "Negative impacts of budget reductions in prior years will be prolonged."

Wolf is also seeking a 10 percent spending hike for higher education over the next two years, which would include the 14 state owned universities and the four state-related schools -- Penn State, Pitt, Temple and Lincoln universities. 

Since his first budget address last year, a year of negotiations with the Republican-held State House and Senate have yielded none of Wolf's education funding priorities.

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