Guest post by Kathy Newman.
We all know sitting is bad for us, right? But right now there is a group of Philadelphia parents, teachers and students sitting-in at Tom Corbett’s Harrisburg office, demanding that the Governor and the State Legislature pass a decent budget for education this month.
You might not be able to get to Harrisburg to join the sit-in, but there is something you can do. And you can do it sitting down. Five-to-ten minutes of phone calling and emailing on Monday, June 30th, from the comfort of your favorite chair, will make a real difference in this year’s budget negotiation.
It’s hard to believe that a few simple phone calls can make a difference. But our friends at Education Voters say that when lawmakers hear from parents across the state about education they do a better job of putting education first when they are finalizing their budget deals.
The truth is that some of our more sympathetic Democratic lawmakers will have more power than usual in this budget cycle, and a call from you (and you and you and you and you) will remind them that, for many of us in the state, education is a critical issue.
What’s at stake right now? This week the PA House passed a budget that eliminates the $241 million increase in state funding for proposed Ready to Learn Block grants and replace this with a paltry $70 million increase in Basic Education Funding. Under the House budget, PA school districts would lose about 70% of the increases in state funding they were expecting to receive this year and that they were relying on to balance their budgets. That’s a loss of over $2 million for Pittsburgh Public Schools alone.
The House budget is irresponsible and unacceptable. It does not call for a shale tax or a cigarette tax. Instead, it relies on the sale of state liquor stores (which the Senate has so far not supported), gimmicky sources of one-time funding, and the suspension of selected tax credits to balance the budget.
Though it’s the end of the month, and the budget was supposed to be locked up by now, budget negotiations are just beginning. While the budget is still fluid and negotiations are taking place, advocates must speak out loudly and with one voice in support of responsible funding for public schools this year. If we do not speak up now, public education will likely receive little more than scraps in the budget this year.
As with previous Call to Action for Education days, we are asking for broad participation from all organizations and individuals across the Commonwealth. It is incredibly important the legislators in Harrisburg see that people are paying attention. Communities are using these call-in-days to help spread the word about what is happening to our schools, so please join us again!
WHEN: Monday, June 30, 2014
WHAT: Call to Action for Public Education – It’s time for a fair budget for PA’s students!
HOW TO PARTICIPATE: Mark your calendar and plan to ask your own network to take action
Mark your calendar today for Monday, June 30th – and do 3 things in 10 minutes to make a difference! Click here for your legislators’ phone numbers. Click here for tips on how to make a good phone call.
- Call your State Senator.
- Call your State Representative.
- Call Gov. Corbett’s office at (717) 787-2500.
Ask them to:
- Support the adoption of a shale tax, cigarette tax and any reasonable measure to raise revenue and close tax loopholes.
- Support an increase in the Basic Education Funding line that is equal to what was in the proposed Ready to Learn Block Grant.
- Support and advocate for state funding for charter school reimbursement to be restored.
- Support SB 1316/HB2138, the special education funding and accountability reform bill. (Additional information about this bill can be found atwww.educationvoterspa.org)
When you are done with your call would you mind heading over to the Yinzercation facebook page and reporting on your calls? If you tweet, you can also promote the day using #educationpa and #pabudget. Thanks to everyone who is sitting and calling in for fair education funding!