Saturday, June 29, 2013

Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for June 29, 2013: “With hours before budget deadline, Pa. needs to get serious about closing tax loopholes”

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Keystone State Education Coalition:
Pennsylvania Education Policy Roundup for June 29, 2013:
“With hours before budget deadline, Pa. needs to get serious about closing tax loopholes”

As the budget process continues please consider contacting the legislative leadership listed below regarding the education budget ; here’s part of their job description:

PA Constitution - Public School System Section 14.

“The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education to serve the needs of the Commonwealth.”
PA Legislature Republican Leadership 2013
Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jake Corman
Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnati
House Majority Leader Mike Turzai
House Appropriation Committee Chairman William Adolph
House Speaker Sam Smith
Governor Tom Corbett 
717-787-2500, Fax: 717-772-8284

With hours before budget deadline, Pa. needs to get serious about closing tax loopholes: As I See It
Patriot-News Op-Ed  By Sharon Ward June 28, 2013 at 12:00 PM
A decade ago, Pennsylvania’s Business Tax Reform Commission laid out a vision to bring greater fairness to the state’s tax structure and to make it more competitive in the 21st century. The plan included new business tax breaks but was balanced with measures to close tax loopholes that companies use to avoid paying Pennsylvania taxes. New revenue from closing those loopholes would pay for tax reductions without impacting other services, such as universities and public schools, that are also vital to the state’s economic success.
Since then, many of the business tax breaks have become law, but policymakers have taken no action to close tax loopholes. The cost of business tax cuts has mounted to close to $3 billion annually and is one big reason why the state is now facing an education funding crisis.
As the clock ticks toward a new state budget, lawmakers and Gov. Tom Corbett have turned their attention once again to closing loopholes. This is welcome news. If done right, it will help balance the scales after a decade of significant business tax cuts – recovering hundreds of millions of dollars that can be invested in neighborhood schools and health services.
Unfortunately, lawmakers are under heavy pressure from the business community to water the plan down, and that could mean Pennsylvania ends up with a law that protects loopholes, rather than closing them.

“Facing a $304 million shortfall July 1, the district has laid off several art teachers and all 76 itinerant music teachers who work with orchestras and ensembles at several schools. Their loss will end several music groups, including the All-City High School Orchestra.”
The Real Consequences of School Reform: As Phila. schools make arts cuts, two luminaries retire
Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writer POSTED: Saturday, June 29, 2013, 1:07 AM
As the Philadelphia School District braces for massive cuts to art and music education, two women who were considered the heart and soul of those programs made a bittersweet exit Friday. Virginia Lam, the district's music specialist, who has overseen the annual all-city music festival at the Kimmel Center, is retiring. So is one of her best friends, Tessie Varthas, the art specialist who coordinated the citywide competition and exhibition of student artists.

Gov. Tom Corbett will not go 4 for 4 on his budget wishlist
By Jan Murphy |  on June 28, 2013 at 10:27 PM
Now that the countdown to the midnight Sunday deadline is being counted in hours, instead of days, it's starting to become clear that Gov. Tom Corbett will not be going four-for-four on his wishlist of big-ticket items. But what his final tally on achievements still be remained in question late Friday evening.

State Senate panel OKs liquor privatization in session that goes until 1:38 a.m.
The vote moves Pennsylvania a step closer to ending Prohibition-era liquor store system, part of Gov. Tom Corbett's 2013-14 budget plan.
By Meg Rogers and Steve Esack, Call Harrisburg Bureau 3:43 a.m. EDT, June 29, 2013
The state Senate pulled an all-nighter as Republicans and Democrats haggled over a liquor privatization deal Gov. Tom Corbett covets.  At 1:17 a.m. Saturday the 27-member Republican majority won and the 23 Democrats lost.  At that time, which was more than two hours past the Senate's self-imposed 11 p.m. curfew to wrap up legislative work, all Republicans supported an amendment to a bill that could end the state's 80-year monopoly on wine and spirits sales.

Delaying the phaseout of the capital stock and franchise tax cut could raise $360 million.
Letter to the Editor: Time running out to delay Capital Stock and Franchise tax cut damaging to schools
Delco Times LTE by Lawrence A. Feinberg Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Time is running out for students across Pennsylvania. Less than two weeks remain for state lawmakers to begin to undo the damage they have done with deep funding cuts to schools. A House budget plan leaves nearly 85 percent of those cuts in place, doing little to hire back nurses and counselors or to restore music, arts and sports programs that districts have been forced to cut.  Senate leaders and Gov. Corbett’s administration have signaled a willingness to delay a business tax cut next year. That is welcome news. Keeping the tax rate at 2012 levels could raise $360 million to restore some of the deepest school cuts. In response to critics, Sen. Jake Corman, R-34, asks: “Is that (tax) phaseout more important than education dollars?”

Some estimates say the Delaware loophole causes Pennsylvania to lose as much $450 million a year in tax receipts.
Pa. Shouldn't Miss an Opportunity to Close Loopholes
PA Budget and Policy Center June 27,2013
In the coming days, the Pennsylvania Legislature will be hammering out a deal to balance the 2013-14 state budget. One piece of the package will be a budget-related tax plan that may include a provision designed to close corporate tax loopholes.  Specifically, lawmakers are discussing the creation of a so-called "addback" rule. Such rules require corporations to add back interest and intangible expenses (such as for copyrights and patents) paid to related companies — often affiliates in Delaware or Nevada where the income is not taxed.

Lawmakers call for quashing the Common Core standards in Pennsylvania
By Jan Murphy |  on June 28, 2013 at 7:13 PM
A group of House Republican lawmakers plan to introduce a five-bill package aimed at halting implementation of the Pennsylvania Common Core academic standards once and for all.
At a Capitol news conference on Friday morning, the lawmakers maintained that the Common Core movement that originated with national organizations of unelected bureaucrats that want to standardize education across states is not the path to raising student achievement in Pennsylvania.  “For me, one of the biggest concerns about the Common Core standards is that there is no empirical academic or scientifically conducted peer-review studies to show that the Common Core standards will actually raise U.S. student performance,” said Rep. Stephen Bloom, R-North Middleton Twp., who sponsored one of the bills.

PA School Funding: What's Really Going on at Sto-Rox school district?

Op-Ed: Our schools need more state funding
Pottstown Mercury Opinion by Ronald Williams June 26, 2013
On becoming a school board director, I vowed to do all I could to ensure that our children get the best quality education possible, a mission shared by my fellow school board members. This has become increasingly difficult to fulfill after two years of state funding cuts.
Cuts in funding for Pottstown schools have forced us to let good teachers go and eliminate all but mandated teacher’s aides. Administrative positions are at bare bones and we are maneuvering through the intricacies of attempting to maintain programs that are vital to a healthy learning environment. Music, arts and athletics have been spared so far.
Right now our lawmakers are on track to approve a budget that does little to restore damaging education cuts or help school districts address the higher costs we expect next year. One way to provide relief to local taxpayers is to stop giving businesses new tax breaks.

Wilkinsburg school boards budget cuts teachers and staff
By Alex Zimmerman / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette June 29, 2013 12:34 am
The Wilkinsburg school board voted Friday night to approve a $28 million budget that eliminates nearly 10 faculty positions and at least three administrators.  Business manager Philip Martell said four to five of the teacher reductions will likely occur through attrition without requiring layoffs.

On funding for our schools, give Corbett an F By STATE REP. MIKE STURLA Posted: Friday, June 28, 2013 6:00 am
As the school year ends and students hit the road for summer vacation, I think it is fair to say if Pennsylvanians — students, parents, educators and taxpayers — were able to grade Gov. Tom Corbett on his education policies, they’d give him an F.
For the third year, the Republican-backed state budget proposal axes education funding across the board. Early childhood programs, higher learning and career schools, science-based curriculum, improvements to aging school buildings — nothing is safe in the GOP’s spending plan.  The chronic underfunding our schools have endured during the Corbett administration have already had huge impacts on students, their families, property taxpayers and educators, resulting in nearly 20,000 layoffs, larger class sizes and fewer course offerings.

Pennsylvania Political round-up with John Baer and John Micek
June 28, 2013
The $28.4 billion Pennsylvania state general fund budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year is due by midnight Sunday, June 30th, and is supposed to start Monday, July 1st. There are many items to consider including three transportation funding plans, a liquor privatization overhaul, property-tax reform, public education funding, pension reform, and a plan for the state to respond to the national Affordable Healthcare Act regarding its Medicaid coverage strategy. Also, will Governor Corbett be running for a second term in 2014? The governor, who continues to score low public opinion ratings, has been reported scheduling 29 campaign meeting in the first four months of this calendar year. He has recently noted Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate has dipped to a (lower) 7.5 percent, and responded to President Obama’s “Climate Action Plan” speech this week with it was "not only a war on coal … but also a war on jobs." Marty talks to JOHN BAER, columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News, and JOHN MICEK, editor of the editorial and opinion pages for The Patriot-News and PennLive.

NAEP results show minority students making strong gains, but gaps remain
National School Boards Association’s Center for Public Education (Alexis Rice|June 28th, 2013
This was republished from the National School Boards Association’s Center for Public Education (CPE), The EDifier and written by Jim Hull, CPE’s Senior Policy Analyst.
Minority students have made significant gains over the past four decades in both math and reading, according to the 2012 long-term NAEP results. While most white students made significant gains as well, achievement gaps narrowed considerably since minority students made much larger gains than their white peers. However, large achievement gaps still remain.

Save the Date: Diane Ravitch will be speaking at the Main Branch of the Philadelphia Free Library on September 17 at 7:30 pm.  Details to come.

PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference
October 15-18, 2013 | Hershey Lodge & Convention Center
The PASA-PSBA School Leadership Conference is the largest gathering of elected officials in Pennsylvania and offers an impressive collection of professional development opportunities for school board members and other education leaders.
See Annual School Leadership Conference links for all program details.

PAESSP State Conference October 27-29, 2013
The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel, State College, PA
The state conference is PAESSP’s premier professional development event for principals, assistant principals and other educational leaders. Attending will enable you to connect with fellow educators while learning from speakers and presenters who are respected experts in educational leadership.
 Featuring Keynote Speakers: Charlotte Danielson, Dr. Todd Whitaker, Will Richardson & David Andrews, Esq. (Legal Update).

EPLC Education Policy Fellowship Program – Apply Now
Applications are available now for the 2013-2014 Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP). The Education Policy Fellowship Program is sponsored in Pennsylvania by The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC).
With more than 350 graduates in its first fourteen years, this Program is a premier professional development opportunity for educators, state and local policymakers, advocates, and community leaders.  State Board of Accountancy (SBA) credits are available to certified public accountants.
Past participants include state policymakers, district superintendents and principals, school business officers, school board members, education deans/chairs, statewide association leaders, parent leaders, education advocates, and other education and community leaders.  Fellows are typically sponsored by their employer or another organization.
The Fellowship Program begins with a two-day retreat on September 12-13, 2013 and continues to graduation in June 2014.

Building One America 2013 National Summit July 18-19, 2013 Washington, DC
Brookings Institution to present findings of their “Confronting Suburban Poverty” report
Building One America’s Second National Summit for Inclusive Suburbs and Sustainable Regions will involve local leaders and federal policy makers to seek bipartisan solutions to the unique but common challenges around housing, schools and infrastructure facing America’s metropolitan regions and its diverse middle-class suburbs. Participants will include local elected and grassroots leaders from America’s diverse middle class suburban towns and school districts, scholars and policy experts, members of the Obama Administration and Congress.  The summit will identify comprehensive solutions and build bipartisan support for meaningful action to stabilize and support inclusive middle-class communities and promote sustainable, economically competitive regions.

Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School FAST FACTS
Quakertown Community School District March 2013

PA Charter Schools: $4 billion taxpayer dollars with no real oversight

Keystone State Education Coalition Prior Posting
Charter schools - public funding without public scrutiny

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