Tom Wolf Caught Telling Education Lies That Are Dangerous for Pennsylvania

Governor Busted For Wanting To Cut $1 Billion From 362 School Districts Even Before WHYY Report Ran

Last week, the Wolf campaign responded to a press conference where Scott Wagner pointed out that the Governor’s new education funding position would cut $1 billion from 362 school districts by claiming Wagner was “telling  education lies that are dangerous for Pennsylvania. ” 

Governor Wolf himself called Wagner’s mere statements of the facts, “complete nonsense” and even tried to laugh them off.

However, from the Philadelphia Tribune article below, it’s clear Wolf supports an immediate end to hold harmless and that he wants all education dollars to now be routed through the 2016 formula that he signed into law (which would result in $1.2 billion in cuts for 362 school districts). And it’s clear he’s had that position since as early as June 21.

As the Philadelphia Tribune reports, Wolf’s chief of staff, in a meeting with the Philadelphians Organized to Witness Empower and Rebuild (POWER) on June 21, said Wolf is supportive of immediately ending hold harmless through HB2501.

“More than 400 clergy, students, parents and activists packed the State Capitol to push for 100 percent of the state’s education budget to go through the fair funding formula, at a rally organized by Philadelphians Organized to Witness Empower and Rebuild  (POWER) on Wednesday afternoon.

“Rabb introduced Bill 2501 earlier this week that would have 100 percent of the education budget being distributed through the fair funding formula. Wednesday’s rally called attention to the bill and encouraged other legislators to sponsor it.

We met with the Governor’s chief of staff and they were supportive. The bill already has 21 cosponsors [including] representatives across rural and urban areas; and Republicans and Democrats have shown support,” said Rev. Gregory Holston, POWER Executive Director. “We need 100 percent of our state education dollars to go through the fair funding formula. It is fair. It is just. [And] it serves all of our children across the state.” Holston continued that he is hopeful about the bill but knows that it will take time. Even so, he said POWER is prepared to continue working for equitable education. “We hope by the end of the year, this bill will pass,” he said.” (Philadelphia Tribune, 6/21/18)

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HB2501 is legislation that would immediately require all basic education funding to be run through the formula passed into law in 2016. The cosponsorship memo even  emphasizes the timing in which the change should go into place:

  • “This bill requires that 100% of state funds are distributed through this formula effective immediately.”

Therefore, when Wolf announced  to WHYY at a press conference in Philadelphia on June 29 that, “We need a fair funding formula for all dollars going into public education,” he was simply reiterating the pro-HB2501 stance he had already made public a week earlier.

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“If Tom Wolf wants to talk about telling education lies that are dangerous for Pennsylvania he should look in the mirror,” said Wagner for Governor spokesman Andrew Romeo. “He stood in front of TV cameras last week and tried to deny the fact that he wants to cut $1.2 billion from 362 school districts despite supporting a bill that would do just that. He should be ashamed of himself, not only for his education plan, but also for the lies he’s trying to tell about it.”

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And for the doubting Thomas’ that are still convinced Governor Wolf does not favor the immediate end to hold harmless –  take a look at the following timeline of events.

June 21 –

  • Wolf’s chief of staff meets with Rev. Gregory Holston and tells Holsten that Wolf supports HB2501 – which would get rid of hold harmless immediately. ( The Philadelphia Tribune story was never disputed by Wolf’s official office or campaign.)
June 29 – 
  • Wolf reiterates support for HB2051. (the original WHYY story was not addressed by Wolf’s office until July 5)
June 29 – 30 – 
  • Senator Jay Costa, who originally backed Wolf’s position, had to withdraw his support do to the fact that he realized running all education dollars through the BEF immediately would devastate schools in his district.
July 5 – 
  • Wolf’s office finally tries to walk back comments in WHYY story. (Wolf’s team does not seek a retraction for the headline in the June 29 WHYY story, which was, “Gov. Wolf calls for drastic school funding shake-up in surprise announcement,” or retractions regardig any of the content suggesting Wolf’s idea would result in cuts to over 300 school districts.)
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