In an interview Tuesday with the Associated Press, Republican gubernatorial nominee Tom Corbett declared that one of his priorities as governor would be to make public money available for private and parochial school vouchers.
Corbett called the public school system a "monopoly," and stated that public schools would have to dramatically improve or risk losing taxpayer dollars to educational alternatives like charter and parochial schools. Corbett's statements make him bedfellows with Democratic State Senator Anthony Williams, who also gave a full-throated endorsement to taxpayer-funded vouchers during his failed gubernatorial bid.
Corbett's position, however, puts him directly at odds with his competitor, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Dan Onorato. While Onorato supports tax credits for businesses contributing to private school scholarships, which already are provided by Pennsylvania, he says he is firmly opposed to taxpayer-funded vouchers. Onorato's spokesman asserted that "...vouchers direct funds away from public education, undermining the state's ability to ensure all public schools are adequately funded."
Corbett acknowledged that allowing taxpayer-funded vouchers would represent a significant shift in Pennsylvania's current policies, which allow for education improvement tax credits (EITCs) but ban the outright use of publicly funded vouchers for private schools.
Explaining his bold position on vouchers, Corbett stated that all options should remain on the table with regard to improving the quality of education in Pennsylvania. "This money is for the kids," he said. "I think we've got to take a look at everything when it comes to the funding."