The state’s top education official is defending the governor’s budget plan for next year but in doing so he is focusing on the past.
Corbett’s budget proposal would increase the largest share of state education spending by $20 million dollars compared to the budget that was passed last year. School districts say that specific increase is overshadowed by the proposed $100 million cut to another education funding stream, known as accountability block grants.
However, Education Secretary Ronald Tomalis points out the stream was nixed all together from the last spending plan. “That accountability block grant was not in the ’11-12 budget, I know that that’ll be some quibbling out there but the fact is that it wasn’t in the ’11-12 budget, that line item for the ’11-12 budget was zero,” said Tomalis.
Governor Corbett himself has said the current budget he passed last year did cut education spending, if one looks at state spending “as a whole.”
Tomalis argues that the biggest state funding cut to education came during the Rendell administration. Schools just didn’t feel it because the cut was filled in with the temporarily available federal stimulus dollars.
“I was on plenty of these calls, Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, was talking about this phrase, the funding cliff. The funding cliff was coming and we all knew that that money was going to go away, yet it was built into the base of funding,” said Tomalis.