Philly Schools Held Hostage to Pension Vote

Republicans: Philly Dems can’t raise school funds without a painful choice.

We told you Friday that Philly Democrats were being offered a choice — they could get school funding, but only if they tossed their labor union allies under the bus, either with a liquor privatization vote or support for a bill that will overhaul pensions for state workers. Over the weekend, the trade crystalized: Without support for the pension vote, Philly Dems can forget ed funding help.

WITF reports:

Governor Corbett says Democratic state lawmakers should pony up votes to pass a public pension overhaul bill if they want Philadelphia to be allowed to hike a tax on cigarettes for schools funding.

“This is one where the Philadelphia delegation has the ability to help the school district of Philadelphia far more than any one delegation can,” Corbett said during an impromptu press conference he held in his office Sunday.

“There aren’t quite enough votes on the Republican side,” Corbett said, referring to the pension benefits overhaul bill. He urged the Democratic Philadelphia delegation “to deal and give” their votes to the proposal in return for the cigarette tax authorization. “It’s in their hands,” Corbett said.

“I’m giving them the option to help their school district,” he added.

PennLive adds:

A senior Senate Democrat said Corbett was wasting his time, declaring pension reform “done” in both the House and Senate.

“The governor is trying to regurgitate a program that he couldn’t get passed with Republican majorities in the House and Senate,” said Sen. Vincent Hughes of Philadelphia, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee. “It’s over.”

Hughes accused Corbett of playing politics with the city’s public school students as he pursued his pension reform program.

The Inquirer explains what’s at stake:

Meanwhile, Nutter and Hite sounded the alarm that without additional funding, class size in the city’s 202 schools would jump to 41 students and 1,300 teachers would be laid off.

The $2-per-pack hike to the cigarette tax – approved by Philadelphia City Council but needing legislative authorization – would bring in an estimated $80 million, which Hite and Nutter say would bring the city close enough to plugging the hole in the $2.6 billion school budget.

And that presumes approval of the extra $39 million that Corbett proposed for the city in his February budget address, but which had not been finalized by late Sunday.


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  • billmedicare

    Nobody is held hostage. It is not a problem. Get rid of the union slime balls, period! why is this a problem? Break the contract and fire them all! Tax the welfare sucking leeches of those who pay 0 into the system who send kids to the school district and your problem is solved people. Or start cutting the free breakfast and lunches they receive to save money . Stop the breaks for transpasses and tokens.

  • Dina Kramer

    You don’t mind supporting the schools, but the students still come out uneducated. You need better teachers and better behaved students.

    • Anne Tenaglia

      No, we need to go back to the time when teachers had autonomy over how they taught, not like it is now. 13 years of ed “reform” has done NOTHING for the schools. State oversight has only made things worse. The teachers and students are fine, it’s the policies that need to be changed and support for students that needs to be strengthened.

  • critical mass

    Corbett is a disgrace, as is the Republican party. They are the lapdogs of the rich, who are foolishly bound and determined to impoverish the nation in the hopes of cornering every last penny.

    • Annethensome

      …and they control PA government.

    • Dan

      Isn’t Tom Wolf worth like $100 million and bought the democratic primary? How about the $1 million payday Ackerman got for failing Philadelphia schools? Yea, that’s where my tax dollars are going? Yea Corbett huge disgrace for wanting to preserve and fix teachers’ pensions. What a jerk haha.

      Corbett 2014.

  • Annethensome

    Corbett’s own party knows he is cooked in November and they are waiting to pass new taxes until Wolf is governor.This way, they can stick to their old, tired, doomed lines.

  • Enuf already

    I am so tired of the mistruths. Millions of dollars the school can’t account for, lower test scores, teachers caught helping the kids to cheat which only cheats the kids. Septa owed the city 22m in delinquent taxes, but the Major wiped the debt clean and signed a 30 year agreement that absolved Septa to make good on monies earned as a commercial landlord, e.g., underground concourses, etc. This agreement also states that the city will forgo all claims to future taxes. In addition other delinquencies are 2) Chinatown parking lot $2.5M, 3 African American Museum 971k. Colleges and hospitals don’t pay taxes on anything and what about all of these “churches” popping up that are tax exempt. Some of these are no longer churches but businesses.
    What about people who are in section 8 being paid almost 800.00 p/mo per kid. People who aren’t citizens getting SSI, etc.
    Its time to stop the fraud, theft, abuse, waste, mismanagement and overspending of OUR, the taxpayers money. They’re all getting rich off us while we get poorer.
    Where are the ethics, morals, honor not to mention fiscal responsibility.