HARRISBURG – State Democrat and Republican politicians, hoping to score points with voters in this year’s contentious race for governor, battled Monday (July 28, 2014) at the Capitol over whether incumbent Gov. Tom Corbett cut $1 billion from education funding under his first budget … or not.
The problem, according to reporter Andrew Staub of The Pennsylvania Independent online news service, is that each side defines what happened with the 2011-2012 state budget’s education money in different ways.
“Sorting out the truth over education funding isn’t exactly a cut-and-dried process,” Staub wrote Tuesday (July 29). “The inclusion of pension costs in some funding figures, and the federal stimulus funding that pumped up education spending for two years before expiring has distorted the picture.”
The allegation that Corbett slashed money from schools has dogged him for most of his first term, Staub noted. The debate was heightened last week when an organization aligned with Democrats began running television commercials taking the governor to task.
That brought out the Republican response: Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley characterized the advertisement as a “damned lie,” and came to a press conference armed with statistics showing how state financial support for schools has steadily grown over several years.
Behind the squabbling, Franklin and Marshall College pollster G. Terry Madonna told Staub, is the fact that voters say education funding is their primary concern as the November elections approach. Corbett’s Democrat opponent, Tom Wolf, has been hammering away at the theme for months.