Harkins: Governor outlined critical education goals during Erie visit

HARRISBURG, Feb. 9 – State Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, issued the following statement after Gov. Tom Wolf’s visit today to Pfeiffer-Burleigh Elementary School to discuss education funding.

“I was glad to hear the governor discuss his budget proposals on education and the need to apply the state’s fair funding formula more broadly.

“I was also encouraged to see that the governor’s proposed budget would bring nearly $30 million in additional basic education funding for Erie schools – a major investment in our children’s future.

“But we can, and should, do more to level the playing field between the haves and the have-nots.

“Fair funding – which distributes money to school districts based on student population and community need – is exactly what we need here in Erie. But the formula isn’t working to level the playing field the way it was designed to, because it isn’t being applied to all education funding – just increases in funding.

“As a result, more than five years after the formula was passed, Erie public schools are still grossly underfunded compared to some of their peers.

“With a stable state financial outlook and billions in the Rainy Day fund, we now have the power to turn that around once and for all – with zero increase in taxes. I find it hard to imagine a smarter investment than in our kids and our future workforce, and I plan to keep fighting for those dollars.

“If we’re asking our students to bring their best efforts to the classroom every day, shouldn’t we be giving them the same advantages as students in wealthier zip codes?”