Sen. Hughes: State Ed Funding “Unacceptable”

Says Marcellus Shale tax needed to help augment funding.

The state’s current plans for funding K-12 education are “unacceptable,” State Sen. Vincent Hughes said Friday in a letter to Philadelphia’s School Reform Commission.

The letter came a day after the Pennsylvania House passed its version of the budget that includes $70 million in funding increases, but omits many millions more that had been sought by Gov. Tom Corbett before the manifestation of a $1.5 billion budget deficit.

“Simply put, the level of education funding in the budget passed by the State House is unacceptable,” Hughes, a Philly Democrat, said in the letter addressed to SRC Chairman Bill Green.  “We all know that our teachers, parents, and students are already operating in a very difficult environment and the budget passed by the State House will only make matters worse. ”

State officials could raise ed funding through some of the following means, he said:

• Imposing a severance tax on drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale, which he said could raise $700 million.

• Fixing a so-called “pension double-dip” for a savings of $75 millin.

• Finding another $1.1 billion in unspecified savings and revenue options “without raising broad-based taxes.”

The full letter below: