Wagner Campaign Releases New TV Ad Calling Out Tom Wolf For His Dangerous Education Plan

“Drastic” Highlights Scott Wagner’s Commitment To Education Over Tom Wolf’s Proposed School Cuts

The Wagner for Governor campaign released a new television ad today contrasting Tom Wolf’s dangerous new education plan with Scott Wagner’s commitment to putting more money into Pennsylvania’s classrooms. “Drastic,” a 30 second spot running in various markets throughout the commonwealth, details the Governor’s plan to cut $1.2 billion from over 70 percent of school districts in Pennsylvania.

“Despite campaigning as someone who would be an ‘Education Governor’ in 2014, Tom Wolf has been a disaster for public schools in Pennsylvania,” said campaign manager Jason High. “For three straight years the Governor failed to approve a single dollar for education, and now he’s pushing for a plan that would bring unsustainable cuts upon suburban and rural schools. Scott Wagner has voted for more education funding increases than Tom Wolf has ever signed, will be a true champion for our students and will stand firmly against the Governor’s education cuts, which are so unconscionable that even members of his own Party are speaking out against them.”

On June 21, the Philadelphia Tribune reported that Governor Wolf’s chief of staff said that Wolf is supportive of HB2501, which would immediately run all public education dollars through the formula established in 2016. As Watchdog reported, the legislation “could strip $1.2 billion dollars from rural school districts and redirect the funds, especially to Philadelphia schools.”

The Governor then held a press conference on June 29 where he reinforced his support for the plan to a reporter from WHYY.

  • ‘“We need a fair funding formula for all dollars going into public education,’ Wolf said in response to a question from Keystone Crossroads. Wolf later affirmed that he was advocating for a complete formula-based distribution of dollars. ‘Yes. Yes,’ he said.”’ (WHYY, 6/29/18)
Watch the ad HERE.

TRANSCRIPT

NARRATOR: “The cat’s out of the bag. Tom Wolf’s plan for a drastic school funding change. Your school could see a big cut so that Philadelphia gets a whole lot more. Hundreds of our schools would see crippling cuts. Even Democrats are saying Tom Wolf’s plan would be immediately devastating. Typical Tom Wolf. Scott Wagner is on our side, fighting so that all our children have the opportunity to receive a great education. Scott Wagner for Governor.”

BACKGROUND

Multiple other news outlets, legislators, school districts and school officials have pointed out how the Governor’s education plan will result in cuts for Pennsylvania’s schools.

Members of the Media

“If Gov. Tom Wolf’s support of fully implementing the fair funding formula for Pennsylvania school districts helps it go into effect, property owners in Indiana County would no doubt view it as anything but fair. Property taxes in the county would have to go up an additional $28 million to make up the loss of funding to county school districts. It would affect homeowners, business owners with commercial properties, farmers and other landowners. With 35,000 households in our county, that breaks down to an $800 increase per household.” (Indiana Gazette, 7/25/18)

“Last week, I wrote a story about proposed state-wide [sic] changes to the distribution of basic education funding. And as we’ve talked about the issue here in the newsroom and I’ve pondered the political and practical implications of what Governor Wolf has proposed, it’s pretty clear that my political view and my practical view simply can’t be in alignment… A $10.6 million overnight reduction in funding from the state would cripple the district in its current form…Representative Rapp said that ‘without question, I will oppose future legislation that is created based on Wolf’s ludicrous education funding formula proposal.’ Sure, there are probably partisan reasons she would want to come out strongly against the proposal of a Democratic governor. But, if she’s going to represent her constituents, she’s got no choice on this one.” (Warren Times Observer, 7/31/18)

“Local state representatives are voicing their displeasure at Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposal to distribute funds to public schools, which could cut state funding to rural schools. At the end of June, Wolf announced during an event in Philadelphia that he wants to distribute 100 percent of the state’s Basic Education Funding through the revised Basic Education formula.” (Uniontown Herald-Standard, 7/23/18)

“Recently Governor Tom Wolf called for a major change in how public schools are funded in the commonwealth. It’s a plan that would benefit most students in the state, but cause deep cuts in rural districts.” (WJAC, 7/19/18)

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Legislators

Sen. Patrick Stefano (R-Fayette/Somerset/Westmoreland)
“Governor Wolf’s new plan for distributing education funding would have a devastating effect on the School Districts of my district. This is another example of Governor Wolf pandering to Philadelphia at the expense of rural Pennsylvania communities like ours. I will fight, with every fiber of my being, Governor Wolf’s disastrous proposal. All Pennsylvanians, no matter their zip code, deserve a high quality education. Governor Wolf’s proposal would doom our children and all of rural Pennsylvania, to substandard educational opportunities.While his staff has tried to explain away the Governor Wolf’s emphatic endorsement of this wrongheaded idea, they have left the idea very much on the table. Governor Wolf’s legislative allies have rushed to introduce legislation to implement his proposal. Governor Wolf should pledge right now to not pursue this shortsighted proposal in any way, over any period of time.’’ (Press Release, 7/25/18)

Rep. Martin Causer (R-Cameron/McKean/Potter)
“I am standing up for my rural schools and my rural constituents.”
. . .
This governor has been there for four budgets, the first three he refused to sign,” Causer said. “All those had money for public schools. (Wolf) wants to take credit for more money in public schools when he didn’t even sign the budgets,’ Causer said. ‘I find it ironic that he’s taking credit for budgets he didn’t sign.’
. . .
At a public event in Philadelphia on June 29, Gov. Wolf plainly stated he wanted all basic education funding dollars from the state to go through a new funding formula,’ Causer said. ‘If he gets what he wants, rural schools like those I represent will see major cuts in state funding. It would cripple our schools and our students.’
. . .
Causer said the impact of the funding change would be immediate and could shutter rural schools. ‘There are 500 districts in Pennsylvania. If the policy were to change, more than 300 would lose funding,’ he said. ‘Rural school districts would suffer the most. A school like Austin (Area School District) would have to close. Most of the school districts in McKean County would have to close.’” (Bradford Era, 7/28/18)

Rep. Matthew Dowling (R-Fayette/Somerset) 
“Local state representatives are voicing their displeasure at Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposal to distribute funds to public schools, which could cut state funding to rural schools. . . . ‘While I am in full support of school districts receiving as much state funding as possible, this proposal, if enacted, would drastically cut state funding for our local school districts by up to 50 percent,’ Dowling said. ‘By putting all of the education funding through the Fair Funding Formula, it will only benefit growing school districts and hurt districts that are seeing declines in enrollment.’” (Uniontown Herald-Standard, 7/23/18)

Rep. Cris Dush (R-Jefferson/Indiana)
“‘Our communities simply do not have the local tax base necessary to make up for such a significant loss of funds, and our students would suffer as a result,’ Dush said. ‘Clearly, the governor is seeking to rob as much as possible from Western Pennsylvania school districts to pay off his top electoral base with nearly $350 million in increased funding earmarked for schools located in greater Philadelphia.’” (Watchdog, 7/23/18)

Rep. Cris Dush (R-Jefferson/Indiana)
“Sadly, this is just another example of how desperately the governor is out of touch with Jefferson County, Indiana County and the rest of rural Pennsylvania. . . . Without question, I will oppose any legislation that is created based on Wolf’s ludicrous education funding formula.” (Press Release, 07/13/18)

Rep. Tina Pickett (R-Bradford/Sullivan/Susquehanna)
“Could it be that Gov. Tom Wolf’s visit to the Northern Tier in September of last year has already slipped his mind. Last fall, his office issued a press release, quoting him as saying: ‘It is important that smaller and rural communities know state government is listening to them and affirming their important role in our Commonwealth.’ It seems he’s quickly forgotten us.
. . .
To implement this funding formula using 100 percent of state aid would literally bankrupt most of our rural schools. In fact, 357 of the state’s 500 public school districts would LOSE out on state funding.
. . .
I implore Gov. Wolf to change his mind and to keep the funding formula as it is. He needs to keep his promise to the people of rural Pennsylvania that they matter. Because they do.” (Press Release, 7/16/18)

Rep. Jeffrey Pyle (R-Armstrong/Butler/Indiana)
“‘This is absurd and unacceptable. The governor’s actions will force our school districts to raise property taxes greatly and unexpectedly,’ said Pyle. ‘To come out of nowhere like it did, so close to the school district’s having to file their budgets is grossly irresponsible. I’ll be fighting this cruel malarkey.’” (Press Release, 7/11/18)

Rep. Kathy Rapp (R-Crawford/Forest/Warren)
“House Appropriations Committee data shows that the governor’s plan would significantly slash state education dollars to nearly every school district serving District 65 students.
. . .
“‘Clearly, Pennsylvania’s out-of-touch governor wants to rob as much as possible from rural school districts to pay back his top electoral base with nearly $350 million in increased funding earmarked for schools located in greater Philadelphia,’ said Rapp, who also serves as a member of the House Education Committee. ‘Without question, I will oppose any future legislation that is created based on Wolf’s ludicrous education funding formula proposal.’” (Press Release, 7/19/18)

Majority Leader Dave Reed (R-Indiana)
“‘I can only imagine that the governor didn’t know how what he was proposing was going to play out in practicality,’ said state Rep. Dave Reed, R-Indiana. ‘If you implement what the governor proposes, you would be immediately closing about half of the school districts in the state.’
. . .
Reed said it would force all Indiana County districts to close, except for Indiana Area. But Indiana ‘would go from a very affluent school district to a very poor school district,’ Reed said.
. . .
‘The three budgets that increased the most for education the governor refused to sign and they took effect without his signature,’ the House majority leader said.” (Indiana Gazette, 7/12/18)

Rep. Pam Snyder (D-Greene/Fayette/Washington)
“Rep. Pam Snyder . . . said Wolf’s proposal would be ‘immediately devastating’ to school districts in southwestern Pennsylvania.” (Uniontown Herald-Standard, 7/23/18)

Rep. Justin Walsh (R-Westmoreland)
“‘I’m not sure the governor thought this idea through,’ said Rep. Justin Walsh, R-Westmoreland, who added if the proposal would be implemented, 357 of the state’s 500 public school districts would see moderate to significant state funding cuts, including most districts in Westmoreland County. ‘This is not equitable or acceptable.’
. . .
Interestingly, one of the biggest winners under his proposal is Philadelphia, which would receive a $344 million increase,’ Walsh said, adding he’s committed to work against the proposal. ‘Our teachers already face a difficult job working to support all levels of learning in one classroom. This plan would result in many losing their jobs and larger class sizes for those remaining, thus making their work even more challenging.’”  (Uniontown Herald-Standard, 7/23/18)

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School Districts / Officials

“Wolf announced during an event in Philadelphia that he wants to distribute 100 percent of the state’s basic education funding through the revised basic education formula. ‘We’d have to close up shop as a school district,’ said David McDonald, interim superintendent of the Connellsville Area School District. ‘It’s our task to provide a world-class education for our kids. Not only could you not do that, but you couldn’t keep the doors open,’” McDonald said.
. . .
McDonald noted that much of the funding under the proposal would be redistributed to urban and suburban school districts, the latter group of which includes many districts that have large, growing tax bases from which to draw revenue, he said. Meanwhile, rural districts like Connellsville that have declining tax bases and high-poverty populations would see funding cuts, he added. ‘Where is the logic there? Where is there equity in education for our kids?’ said McDonald.” (Uniontown Herald-Standard, 7/23/18)

Denise Sheetz, business manager at the Albert Gallatin Area School District, said her district relies on the state for more than 70 percent of its annual funding. A 30 percent cut in state funding would be ‘a big hit to us,’ she said.” (Uniontown Herald-Standard, 7/23/18)

“For area districts, the fair funding formula ‘isn’t really fair,’ said Albert Gallatin Superintendent Chris Pegg, who described rural districts and districts with declining enrollment as already being underfunded. Enacting Wolf’s proposal would ‘devastate’ those districts, he said. ‘I don’t know how districts like ours would survive without putting class sizes to 35 and furloughing 40 people,’ Pegg said. ‘Then you’re diminishing the quality of education you’re able to provide, so everything we work to try to do to provide a quality education would be out the window with that proposal.’” (Uniontown Herald-Standard, 7/23/18)

Otto-Eldred School District: “This was not the purpose of the Fair Funding Formula. Making this change would result in over $3million less for Otto-Eldred.” (Otto-Eldred School District via Facebook, 7/2/18)

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