Question 3

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As part of its efforts to educate the Jewish community about candidates running for office and their positions, OU Advocacy-PA reached out to the candidates for governor with questions about education and more general issues. The Orthodox Union is a not-for-profit organization and does not endorse any candidate.

How do you propose to ensure that schools in our state are adequately funded? Would you support a funding formula for school districts to ensure that they are adequately funded? If so, what would be the key factors in such a formula?

tom-corbettGov. Tom Corbett: It is incumbent upon state government to ensure that every Pennsylvania student has access to a quality education. I have long supported the creation of a commission to examine the existing funding formula and offer recommendations on fairly distributing funding to Pennsylvania schools.

RobPhoto6-Cropped-SquareRob McCord: We must dramatically revise and reform the state funding formulas for public education. As governor, I will demand a funding formula that ensures public dollars are fairly and effectively delivered to school districts and that the formula takes into account student needs, as well as the local tax base and tax effort needed to fund education.

This burden should not be placed solely on local communities, though. The state must step up and contribute more to public education. Even though public funding for pre-K -12 in Pennsylvania represents one of the largest components of the General Fund budget, Pennsylvania continues to lag other states in the degree to which it supports public education, contributing slightly more than one-third of total funds — while the national average is around 45%.

Certainly, communities should have a role in supporting their local school districts, but we need to consider moving away from an over-reliance on local property taxes and explore the availability of alternative state revenue sources. A McCord Administration will be receptive to every option for new revenues and greater efficiencies.

ASchwartzRep. Allyson Schwartz: As the Democratic Chair of the Pennsylvania Senate Education Committee, I fought for fair funding for our public schools. During my first term, I will reverse Governor Corbett’s nearly $1 billion of extreme cuts by growing the economy, re-prioritizing the existing budget, and drawing upon new resources from a five percent natural gas tax.

In addition, I will work with stakeholders to establish a new funding formula that provides the necessary level of state support for each of our 500 school districts to ensure that all students receive a quality education. I will work to establish a transparent formula that recognizes student and school district characteristics, considers local effort, and provides sustained, adequate, and fair funding to every school.

tom-wolfTom Wolf: As governor, I will enact a fair funding formula. Instituting a fair funding formula is about recognizing the differing and variable needs of children across the state. I will work closely with Democrats and Republicans alike in the state Legislature to enact a sensible, equitable funding formula that starts with a costing out study, includes a nationally competitive base rate, and ties additional funding to district size, poverty levels, local tax efforts, and student makeup. As governor, I will commit to fully funding this formula, which will:

  • Lead to increases in state funding, which will help alleviate the tax burden on property owners;
  • Ensure that state funds are distributed in an equitable, transparent, and predictable manner so that school district leaders have the ability to plan for the long term; and
  • Incentivize school districts to develop innovative programs that improve student achievement
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