Pennsylvania State Chamber Calls Out Union On Funding Misrepresentations

Jim Panyard
Media Trackers

Pennsylvania’s largest business advocacy group, the Chamber of Business and Industry, has challenged the repeated misrepresentations about state education funding made by the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA), the state’s largest and most powerful public employee union.

“The state teachers’ union is spreading the fallacy that the Corbett administration has cut the amount of state dollars flowing to basic education,” Chamber president Gene Barr said Tuesday. “It has not”

The PSEA and its representatives have been saying for nearly two years that Corbett has cut $1 billion from state funding for pre-K-12 education.

Barr’s public position reflects a Media Trackers Pennsylvania story last week indicating the union has been spreading a “Big Lie” and attempting to tar Corbett as anti-education.

The union, if forthcoming, would note Corbett’s predecessor, Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell, was the one who actually cut state funding for pre-K- 12, Barr said.

“The previous administration accepted temporary, federal stimulus dollars for public education and reduced the state share [of public school funding]. This resulted in a decline in average state revenue per student…School districts were repeatedly warned that the money from the federal government would be short-lived and were urged to plan accordingly,” Barr said. “Many did not.”

“The fact is there is more state money currently flowing to pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade education than at any point in the history of the commonwealth,” Barr said.

Barr said education funding is a worthy subject for debate, but the amount “must be based on the ability of taxpayers to fund the system, and the debate must be grounded in facts.”

A spokesman for the PSEA, asked by Media Trackers for a response to Barr’s statement, said, “I’m not talking with you” and hung up the phone.

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