Gov. Tom Corbett is going around campaigning for re-election trying to excuse his ignominious cuts to public education by blaming the expired American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The stimulus bill (which Republicans repeatedly called a “failed” bill in the 2012 elections) obviously didn’t fail at all since it kept 14,000 teachers employed teaching our children in public schools.
Corbett is telling voters that his $860 million cut in the 2011 budget wasn’t his fault because the stimulus bill had expired and those federal funds were no longer available. While partially true that is a lie because that same bill also funded prisons and medical assistance.
Somehow Gov. Gasbag found state funds to replace most of that spending while public education was slashed. The 2008-2009 state budgets actually devoted more money to education than Corbett is doing now and this was prior to the stimulus.
We now spend twice as much on prisons as we do for higher education:
These charts are courtesy of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center. They illustrate that our Governor is attempting to fool voters by lying about his priorities. Budgets are priorities, they reflect our values by assigning public funds for our needs and wants. Corbett has cut corporate taxes while tossing hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians, including children, off health care and welfare. He has refused to expand Medicaid under the ACA and his budget priorities have hurt the Commonwealth’s jobs situation.
Instead of funding public education we are building three new prisons. Prison and judiciary are costing us enormously. The 2011-12 budget year saw us incarcerate 49,000 inmates at a cost of $35,188 apiece. This doesn’t include the costs of judiciary, inmate education, legal costs and capital projects.
At the same time we spent $9.3 billion educating 1.8 million children in our public schools. That came to $5,305/child. We are failing our children and so are condemning too many of them to a life behind bars. We can either educate them or incarcerate them. Which bill do you prefer funding? $35,000 or $5300?
The education costing out study done during the Rendell Administration said we need around $12,000/child to adequately educate each child. Obviously we are failing that test miserably under Tom Corbett. Uneducated people have great difficulty getting and keeping jobs. Without an educated workforce businesses will leave Pennsylvania or fail to locate here. These citizens, left behind by greedy taxpayers refusing to invest in our common good, will resort to whatever means available to survive. Many of them, as a result, will have to be incarcerated.
Education is a “pay me now or pay me later” scenario. Either invest in our children and create a dynamic economic future or continue with a failed school to prison pipeline.