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Taxpayers have routinely been told the Pennsylvania Legislature is all about the business of reducing the burden of school taxes on real estate for taxpayers. In my opinion, they only pay lip service to the topic in election years. The Republican sponsored Senate Bill 1 confirms that fact. SB 1 is a bill that would take millions of dollars from public education funds and transfer it to private and charter schools, which are sometimes run by education management corporations for profit programs, often with little or no brick and mortar responsibilities. Obviously, the taxpayer will be making up the deficit in school funding by increased school taxes.
Public schools educate 90% of our children. The importance of brick and mortar education was made clear during the pandemic, not only for academics but the social well-being and development of our children. Remote education has been a resounding failure for many students. Students with a prior history of superior performance have had lackluster outcomes in the virtual domain.
Adding insult to injury, this bill also adds massive tax incentives to the same charter, online and private schools program. The bottom line is taxpayers are not only being asked to ante up for lost funding to public schools but there will be lost income to the general fund as a result of the outrageously favorable tax incentives. In a state that has 72 billion dollars of pension debt, lavish tax benefits like this are wrongheaded and irresponsible.
But no, it doesn’t stop there. Not only is this bill raiding the budget of school districts and forcing the taxpayer to bear this burden, it will also take all decisions in regard to charter, online and private schools out of the hands of local school boards and put it in the hands of Harrisburg. The same politicians that have bequeathed these huge gifts also want control of all the policies. It is no secret that the academic outcome of many of these institutions has been lackluster at best. The taxpayer has often been strapped with the burden and expense of bringing their failure up to acceptable standards.
SB 1 must be defeated. Harrisburg must return to the commitment of a strong public education system. The legislature must stop handing out tax incentives like candy and begin to deal with the massive debt issues looming in PA. Call your Senators and Representatives and tell them to reject SB1.