In response to The York Dispatch's May 31 editorial "Use reserves to a point":
Over the past several months, the media and traditional public education establishment organizations have wrongly stated that Gov. Tom Corbett eliminated $1 billion in basic education funding this school year.
Actually, the governor has done the exact opposite.
In 2009-10 and 2010-11, nearly $1.7 billion of federal stimulus money flowed into Pennsylvania's public education system. The prior administration used this one-time revenue to reduce and backfill state dollars, as well as temporarily inflate education spending. Unfortunately, this occurred without a way to sustain this level of funding when the federal stimulus program ended.
During this two-year period, the previous administration reduced the state's support of public education by more than $572 million. This largely went unnoticed until the stimulus program came to an end last June.
To minimize the impact to schools, this year Gov. Corbett restored more than $489 million in state support of public schools and proposes to further increase this by $338 million next year. In two years, Gov. Corbett will increase the state's support for public schools by more than $828 million.
Across the state, collectively, school districts have amassed a total of $3.29 billion in reserve funds -- that's $460 million more than the year before.
In comparison, the state government's savings account balance is zero.
Districts have set aside these funds for times like this. Using some of these dollars -- instead of asking more from taxpayers -- to balance their budgets is not an irrational solution.
Having school districts live within their means is not a novel idea, nor should it be viewed as an assault on public education. Families and businesses have been making these difficult decisions over the past few years. Why should the public sector be any different?
There are limited taxpayer dollars to fund state government. All levels of government need to work together to reduce the burden on the hard-working citizens of Pennsylvania. Raising taxes cannot always be the solution.
Pennsylvania Department of Education