Local Democrats held a press conference Friday to rail against Gov. Tom Corbett's proposed state budget and what York City Mayor Kim Bracey called its "unconscionable" impact on public education.
"This budget will only pass things down to the local level," Bracey said.
Bracey said she anticipates the governor's spending plan causing a hardship for the city's budget. But, the mayor said, she is most concerned about the impact on the city school district and its students.
Bracey was joined Friday by Rep. Eugene DePasquale, D-York City, who criticized Corbett's plan to reduce kindergarten funding. DePasquale also said tuition hikes at Pennsylvania universities could be a result of the governor's budget.
"The Corbett vision - if he wins on this - will be devastating impacts to education," DePasquale said. "Even his own Republican leadership in Harrisburg thinks he's out of touch."
The situation might be most dire in York City, but county residents should also be very concerned about education cuts, DePasquale said. Art, music and athletic programs are at risk everywhere, he said.
"These cuts are coming to a neighborhood near you," he said.
State aid for public schools in 2011-12, Corbett's first budget year, shrank by about $860 million, or more than 10 percent.
Corbett's budget plan for next year would hold most school aid relatively flat, but eliminate a $100 million grant program that helps pay for full-day kindergarten.
In addition to restoring that, lawmakers are seeking to add $50 million for an as-yet undefined group of so-called distressed school districts.
Negotiations on a $27 billion-plus budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 are moving slowly as Corbett tries to tamp down the Legislature's spending demands in favor of putting money in reserve to prepare for spiraling public employee pension costs.
Corbett spokesman Kevin Harley defended the governor's plan, which he said reins in unsustainable spending levels under former Gov. Ed Rendell.
"The governor ran to change the culture of tax-and-spend in Harrisburg," Harley said. "Pennsylvania has not had a structurally balanced budget for six years, where you do not spend more than what you take in."
As for education funding, Corbett's plan funnels more money to schools than any budget in state history, Harley said.
"If local officials want to raise taxes, they can do that," he said. "That's a decision they make. They can't blame the governor for that."
The Associated Press contributed to this story. Reach Erin James at 505-5439 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ydcity.