While the state’s largest teacher’s union says the Governor’s budget fails students again, another group sees signs of encouragement. Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children says the budget begins to restore some cuts to core programs.
CEO Joan Benso says they were pleased to see increases for Pre-K Counts and Head Start Supplemental Assistance. She says it’s a turn in direction, indicating the Governor wants to make some important investments in children.
Benso is also encouraged by additional funding to do outreach for the Children’s Health Insurance Program. She says the state has seen its child population in Medicaid decline.
The budget also calls for 90 million more for basic education, but Wythe Keever, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania State Education Association, says that doesn’t begin to fill the hole created since Governor Corbett took office.
Keever is not impressed with the administration’s argument that it inherited an education budget backfilled with one-time federal stimulus money. He says budgeting is about choices and the Governor chose not to replace the stimulus funding.
Keever adds that the governor’s pension reform proposal asks teachers and other public employees to shoulder the burden, when they didn’t create the problem with the pension system. He says new employees would be paying more for a lesser benefit.
The Association is not a fan of the governor’s proposal to privatize state liquor sales and create a four-year education grant program with the proceeds. Keever says the governor is proposing to spend money he doesn’t have yet. He says privatization is far from a done deal; it’s been proposed many times over the last two decades in the General Assembly.
A privatization effort failed to get enough support for a vote in the last session and some lawmakers favor modernization instead.