Schlossberg issues statement on Gov. Wolf budget proposal

ALLENTOWN, Feb. 4 – State Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, has issued the following statement regarding Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed budget for 2020-21:

“Governor Wolf’s proposed budget marks a significant commitment to many of the things important to the 132nd Legislative District and I am encouraged by what I see in the details.

“I certainly applaud Governor Wolf’s proposal to increase funding for education. Governor Wolf’s leadership has resulted in historic increases in state commitment and we must continue to fight for the resources necessary to better our schools.

“The task of charter school reform is a necessary part of this budget. It is also tough conversation. For many families, including many in the 132nd Legislative District, students attend good charter schools where they find meaningful education. The negative effects on the Allentown School District, the students who attend those schools—and cash-strapped taxpayers—cannot be ignored. In 1998, ASD’s budget for charter school costs was $3 million. This year, that number is $64 million. This is $1 out of every $6 of ASD’s budget. Can you imagine trying to run your household with 1/6 of your income being controlled by somebody else? It cannot be done and ASD’s leaders have no say in the matter. This is one illustration for why we need charter school reform so badly.

“Last week, local news reported one area charter school in the Lehigh Valley preparing to build a brand-new school for $80 million. Harrison Morton Middle School was built when Ulysses Grant was president of the United States and is still being used today. In fact, many ASD schools are well beyond the point of needing significant repairs or replacement. On what planet is that fair? I do not begrudge charter schools for offering their students world-class opportunities, but you better believe I demand equity for the students attending ASD. To allow otherwise is effectively creating a system of separate and unequal education.

“There plenty of other pieces to like about this budget:

  • Increased minimum wage.
  • Significant commitment to fix hazardous conditions in school facilities.
  • More resources for mental health services and counselors in our schools.
  • New funding to decrease future student loan debt.
  • Funding for school safety, and security and gun violence initiatives.
  • Improvements to Pennsylvania’s broken mental health care system.
  • Increased funding for environmental protection.
  • Bolsters investments in state parks.
  • More money to cut existing waiting lists for seniors and individuals with disabilities.
  • Business tax reform to level the playing field for small-business owners.
  • State police funding modernization.

“There is a lot of work to do over the next several months. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and the administration to make the difficult decisions necessary to move Pennsylvania forward."