Here’s an encouraging sign of a spring thaw among Pennsylvania’s Republican legislators: Speaking earlier this week at the New Cumberland Republican Women’s breakfast, Rep. Sheryl Delozier said both the House and Senate want “to keep the level of funding where it is this year.” (Capitolwire, April 3, 2012) That would mean taking the proposed $100 MILLION in cuts off the table, likely by restoring the block grants that many districts use to fund full-day Kindergarten.
Rep. Delozier admitted that groups like ours “are still saying they want last year’s cuts back. There isn’t enough money to do that. But it looks like there will be enough to keep the funding the same as it is this year. And I think it is clear we will do that.” This is actually what happened last year during the budget negotiation process when legislators succeeded in restoring block grants, despite an overall devastating cut of $1 BILLION to public education.
Delozier said that the House leadership is not willing to publicly state their support for restoring the block grants, but “it is pretty clear that is a priority.” She revealed that the House Republican caucus has “pretty much agreed … with the leaders and the members, and I believe with the Senate … to level-fund education, give it the same as it got this year.” Capitolwire reports, “Other members confirmed that House GOP leaders have made that commitment to the caucus if, as expected, revenues come in about $200 million higher than predicted.”
Take this as another sign that our pressure is working – and that we need to keep it up. Right now we particularly need to reach out to our Republican legislators and let them know their constituents care about public education. It’s been an early spring, so let’s get that $100 MILLION restored and then see what else we can defrost.