State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

Administration defends one-time funding for schools

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Mar 3, 2013 10:59 PM
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The state Capitol is where the sausage is made, or so the saying goes. So perhaps it makes sense that, with so many big proposals to negotiate, there's been a lot of talk about links.

One example: the governor's liquor privatization plan has been linked to education funding, in that his proposal would put $1 billion raised through selling off state stores and liquor licenses toward one-time grants for schools - a program called Passport to Learning.

Enter Democratic state Representative Madeleine Dean of Montgomery County, who told Education Secretary Ron Tomalis at a recent House Appropriations Committee hearing that the fates of two different issues shouldn't be tied.

"It troubles me that the governor is using the one-time sale of the liquor stores to stimulate education and call it a Passport to Learning," said Dean, saying later, "I mind the linkage."

Tomalis said he disagrees the administration's move is a cynical one meant to ensure smoother sailing for Gov. Corbett's liquor privatization proposal. "I can think of no better way, if you're going to have that asset, where to put it than if you're going to put it into education," he added.

Democrats have repeatedly said the governor's proposal is hypocritical, since he has said that one-time funding sources shouldn't be put toward education because it makes schools rely on money that will go away. Tomalis explained to lawmakers in the hearing that the administration would make sure that any Passport to Learning grants were being used for one-time expenses, not annual costs.

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