Despite complaints of “under funding,” Pennsylvania Public School Fund Balances Grew Over $3 Billion
HARRISBURG — Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Rob Gleason released the following statement in support of Governor Tom Corbett’s budget proposal.
“Governor Corbett is making the tough, but necessary decisions to get Pennsylvania back on the right fiscal track,” Gleason said. “We cannot continue to spend our way out of our fiscal troubles. In what world can some in our state refer to $500 million in added tax revenues as a ‘surplus’ when we have a $4 billion budget deficit. For those mathematicians in the audience, to me that still means we still owe $3.5 billion to balance our budget.
“The chorus of spend, spend, spend seems loudest from the PSEA and public schools who are claiming that they are ‘under funded,’ despite the fact that Governor Corbett actually increased state funding for public school districts. Additionally startling is the fact that public schools have over $3 billion in reserves. If the school districts were to pay back the unspent tax dollars sitting in their coffers we could almost balance the budget without any additional cuts.
“It is time to face the fact that Pennsylvania is broke and more spending is not the solution. The Republican Party of Pennsylvania wholeheartedly supports Governor Tom Corbett and his mission to get our Commonwealth back on the path to fiscal solvency.”
According to updated figures from the Commonwealth Foundation, public school fund balances grew to just over $3 billion. School reserves increased 13% over last year and 157% since 1996-97.
Additionally, K-12 spending has continued to grow at an out-of-control rate. Pennsylvania’s education spending increased from $4 billion in 1980 to more than $25 billion in 2009—a 133% increase in per-student spending, after adjusting for inflation.
According to the PA Department of Education, since 2000, public school staffing has increased while enrollment has decreased. Enrollment has decreased by 26,960 while schools have hired 32,937 more staff members. (“Pennsylvania Education Spending Update,” Commonwealth Foundation, 6.6.11)