Corbett’s the education slasher, but Wolf hasn’t shared a concrete plan: Analysis


Editor’s note: Billy Penn is posting analyses of the Pa. Governor’s Race candidates by looking at 10 pressing issues for Pennsylvania millennials. Our first pieces looked at their stances on marijuana and liquor. Today we’re looking at education.

Gov. Tom Corbett (R):

Incumbent Republican Gov. Tom Corbett claims to have increased funding for primary, secondary and higher education by over a billion dollars since taking office. But his critics say Corbett reduced the amount of money given to public schools in FY2011-FY2012 by $860 million. What?

Well, before Corbett started his term, PA had been receiving $1.34 billion over two years via federal stimulus funding. In the first year, Corbett did not make up that difference out of state money — hence the $860 million cut.  Corbett’s claim to have increased funding for state education means that he later raised state levels of spending back up. However, the total amount of money for public education fell by $1 billion.

On higher education, Corbett had proposed cuts for funding to public universities in his first two years. One of the cuts went through at about 20 percent, sparking howls of protests by state schools. State funding subsidizes tuition for in-state students — with a slash in that funding, comes an increase in tuition. This year in the FY 2013-2014 budget, Corbett agreed to keep funding flat for universities after much protest from the presidents. Still, tuition continues to rise.

Philly students protest Corbett budget cuts:

Challenger Tom Wolf (D):

In the eyes of some analysts, Wolf’s failed to lay out a specific plan to reform the state’s ailing public education system. While he had plenty to say about Corbett’s well-known slashing of funding to public schools, he said during debates only that he’s in favor of a fair funding formula for education.

Wolf’s Fair Funding Formula as laid out on his website insists that the state — which currently provides an average of 32 percent of schools’ funding — should aim to provide 50 percent, therefore alleviating property tax-payers of picking up the burden.

According to his campaign, that additional funding will be based on district size, local poverty levels, student makeup and tax efforts already in place by local officials.

Wolf has been on record saying he believes the state needs to do more to protect Philadelphia schools from closure, calling Corbett’s cigarette tax and additional funding solutions “a Band-Aid.” Wolf’s also said he’s in favor of abolishing the Philadelphia School Reform Commission — which recently unilaterally cancelled teachers’ contracts — in favor of an elected, more traditional school board.

When it comes to higher education, Wolf hopes to implement several programs for veterans and underserved communities by providing additional financial support and instituting application fee waivers for high school students with a GPA over 3.75. He has not committed to reviving any of the millions of dollars that state schools lost in aid under the Corbett administration.

Tom Wolf on public education:

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