New Castle News


June 4, 2013

State Democrats pitch budget with $212 million for schools

HARRISBURG — Senate Democrats Monday pitched a budget plan suggesting that if the Legislature does the exact opposite of almost everything proposed by Gov. Tom Corbett, the state could afford to spend $212 million on public schools.

The Democrats’ plan would depend on savings from expanding Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act. The Democrats also suggest the state “modernize” the state liquor monopoly rather than privatize it. Finally, a planned move to eliminate a corporate tax would be delayed.

The Democrats’ $28.4 billion spending plan is roughly $100 million more than the one put forth by House Republicans and approved by the House appropriations committee Monday morning. The House Republican plan would add $10 million to the $90 million in new basic education funding suggested by Corbett.

“Our focus is on education and jobs,” said Sen. John Wozniak, D-Cambria County.

Wozniak said that, because the Republicans have control of the Senate and the House and the governor’s mansion, it is unclear how much of their plan will make it into the final budget.

“(Republicans) could steamroll us,” he said. But, through the budget negotiation process, the minority party is typically in a position to try to fight to get some of their priorities included in the final spending plan.

Christine Conkright, a spokeswoman in the governor’s office, said two of the major priorities laid out by Corbett — pension reform and liquor privatization — were intended to provide additional money for public schools. Pension reform would help schools manage the cost of their employer contributions. Corbett’s version of privatization intended to direct $1 billion in educational block grants to schools.

Conkright added that the Corbett administration disputes the notion that Medicaid expansion would save the state money, which is a key part of the Democrats’ spending plan. And even if Medicaid expansion was a money-saver, “We’ve seen a lack of willingness from Washington to allow Pennsylvania the flexibility to institute common sense reforms to the Medicaid program that would make it more sustainable,” Conkright said.

Recognizing the political realities, mainly, the Democrats’ budget plan is intended to demonstrate where they think the state should focus their priorities, Wozniak said.

Sen. Vincent Hughes, D-Philadelphia, said the Democrats are calling for a multi-year push to boost basic education funding.

The additional funding for education includes $39 million in new funding for distressed schools. Of that, $11 million would be split between the Duquesne School District, the Harrisburg School District, the Chester-Upland School District and the York City School District.

Philadelphia schools would get $5 million through the distressed school fund. Twenty-eight other school districts would get a share of the remaining $23 million.

Under the plan, two school districts in Cambria County — Forest Hills, $206,152; and Greater Johnstown, $602,767 — and two in Mercer County — Farrell, $166,563; and Sharon City, $368,854 — would get additional aid as distressed schools.

The Democrats’ plan estimates that by expanding Medicaid, the state would save $154 million in welfare department spending. Those dollars could be directed elsewhere, for things such as school funding. The Democrat plan also depends on $360 million that the state would continue to collect by postponing a plan to phase out the Capital Stock and Franchise Tax.

Wozniak said that while he supports the delay, he believes the state needs to get rid of the tax eventually.


Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Yauger.jpg Yauger’s Mercer County trial on hold

    A pending criminal trial for the former Midwestern Intermediate Unit IV executive director has been continued again in Mercer County.

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Yauger.jpg Yauger now facing federal charge

    With Mercer County court proceedings pending this week, Cecelia Yauger faces federal prosecution for alleged business credit card misuse.

    July 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • school.jpg New Castle board adopts budget despite uncertainty

    The New Castle school board adopted its 2014-15 budget Monday but may have to re-open it next week. The $5.4 million budget, introduced in May, has no tax increase and will not tap into the fund balance. Taxes remain at 17.72 mills.

    July 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • Todora.jpg Board, staff bids farewell to superintendent

    Dr. Mary Todora will retire Monday from the Neshannock school district. “I remember eight and a half years ago when Dr. John Dietz (then-board president) called to tell me I got the job. I was thrilled,” Todora said at her final board meeting.

    June 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rich.jpg Vo-tech administrators get bonuses, no raises

    Lawrence County Career and Technical Center administrators will get one-time bonuses instead of raises next year. The joint operating committee approved one-year agreements that would freeze the salaries of director Leonard A. Rich and the principal, head custodian, cafeteria supervisor and computer technician.

    June 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • FrankAloi.jpg Frank Aloi: 50 years of school spirit in Ellwood City

    Frank Aloi is a true Wolverine. Aloi, who turned 73 Friday, spent the past half-century affiliated with the Ellwood City school district and its sports teams.

    June 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • FrankAloi.JPG Frank Aloi Retiring: Ellwood superintendent leaving amid budget woes

    Frank Aloi is retiring next month as Ellwood City’s superintendent of schools. Aloi, a 50-year district employee and its superintendent for nearly 12, submitted his retirement notice to the board during an executive session prior to Thursday’s meeting. His last day is July 16.

    June 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • school.jpg District mulls building sale options

    The New Castle school district is considering selling its three recently closed buildings through a sealed bid process.

    June 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Perfect.jpg Your Education: Shenango grad never missed a day

    They say nobody’s perfect. But for 13 years, Jenna DiGiammarino certainly was. When Jenna left last night’s commencement ceremonies at Shenango High School, she did so not only with a diploma in hand, but also with a flawless record of attendance dating back to Day One of kindergarten.

    June 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • 03.jpg Photo Gallery, Story: Three New Castle schools close today for good

    Today is bittersweet for New Castle Area School District elementary students and teachers. Three buildings packed with history as longtime learning institutions are closing their doors for good.

    June 5, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads

Do you talk to yourself when you're alone?

Yes, but I’m basically just thinking out loud.
No, that would be weird.
I don’t know. Next time I’m alone, I’ll ask.
     View Results