Governor Wolf is on the Right Path
March 22, 2016
Budgets are moral documents. For that reason, NAACP Pennsylvania fully supports Governor Wolf’s efforts to close the structural deficit that is destroying the economic stability of Pennsylvania. We call for the PA General Assembly to follow the Governor’s example of responsible leadership and raise the funds to fix the structural deficit that plagues the commonwealth and to fully fund our schools.
In the interest of their constituents, the PA General Assembly must take a strong bipartisan position to address the financial condition of the state. It is time for our lawmakers to make the hard decisions necessary to raise sufficient revenue to pay Pennsylvania’s bills and position us for a stable future. If they fail to do so, Pennsylvania will run a deficit of $300 million to $500 million in the current fiscal year and at least $1.8 billion in the next. The determination to hide this reality behind ideology is destroying the internal systems that support the social and economic infrastructure on which we all rely.
NAACP PA stands behind the recommendations of the Basic Education Funding Commission. Shamefully, Pennsylvania has the largest funding gap between rich and poor schools in the nation. Even while local revenues count for 56% of school funding in PA; before the PA budget impasse, schools were hurting. The on-going program and staff cuts mean fewer essential resources and opportunities for students. It’s time for a significant, long-term investment in students.
The recommendations put forth by the Funding Commission provide for equity in the funding of schools for the children of Pennsylvania. However, we also realize that the formula is only as good as the education funding put behind it.
Because some legislators will not invest in the future, but instead cling to short sighted, short term funding strategies, the school funding in the budget passed by the legislature is inadequate to address the long-term, on-going school funding crisis in Pennsylvania. The level of funding in this budget does not put the state on a path toward ensuring that all students – no matter where they live – can succeed in meeting Pennsylvania’s academic standards. That will require at least $600 million between this year and next, and the proposed budget does not get us to this necessary amount. We need fair funding NOW to close this gap. The failure to pass a budget that fairly funds schools is hurting children as well as their families. The reality is that lower school funding will result in more local taxes.
NAACP PA is convinced that in order to address the structural deficit and position Pennsylvania for a strong future, as well as provide students with the education required for them to build independent and satisfying lives, we need significant and sustained investment, adequate revenues to support that investment, and ensured tax dollars – which should be used efficiently.
We are convinced that it is the earnest requirement of the Pennsylvania State Assembly to generate the funds needed to close the structural deficit and to meet the education funding needs of Pennsylvania’s students. We urge the Governor and legislature to reach agreement on a responsible, forward-looking final budget for this year that genuinely meets the needs for a stable future; and on an equally responsible, forward-looking on-time budget for next.