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Wolf releases school funding blueprint

The governor is using his own distribution formula, to the protest of Republican lawmakers.
newsworks
  • Gov. Wolf March 23 2016
    Governor Tom Wolf / Flickr

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The School District of Philadelphia stands to see a $76.8 million boost this school year based on Gov. Wolf's plan to proceed unilaterally on how to divide state education cash.

On Tuesday, Wolf released details of his "restoration" funding formula, to the protest of leading Republican state lawmakers.

Although Wolf allowed the state budget as passed by the Republican-controlled legislature to become law without his signature in late March, he vetoed the fiscal code bill, which, in part, acted as a road map for how new education funding would be apportioned.

As passed by lawmakers, the fiscal code directed all new education money through a student-weighted funding formula as recommended by a bipartisan commission.

Wolf and other Democratic leaders argue that districts should first be made whole from cuts that occurred when the legislature agreed to Gov. Tom Corbett's 2011 austerity plan that coincided with the expiration of federal stimulus dollars.

Corbett's plan – which disproportionately hurt Philadelphia schools – was his way of avoiding a tax increase to cover the double-whammy of a state budget deficit and a gap left by money no longer being supplied from Washington, D.C. 

Wolf first used his restoration formula in January after approving a half-year school spending plan. Tuesday's announcement continued that move.

"The new fair funding formula, which I support, cannot truly be fair unless the cuts are fully restored," said Wolf in a statement. "Currently, only 4 percent of districts have seen their funding restored to 2010-11 levels and we are currently over $370 million short from fully restoring the cuts."

With the unilateral action, Wolf has further staked his political future on a plan to dramatically increase the state's responsibility for education spending.

Read the rest of this story at NewsWorks

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Kevin McCorry

Kevin is WHYY/NewsWorks' senior education writer.