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March 17, 2015

Senate Republicans Oppose Wolf Administrations Mandate on School

Districts to Provide Reports on Unauthorized Funding
(HARRISBURG) The Wolf Administration is overreaching its executive power
by mandating that Pennsylvania school districts provide the Department of Education
with reporting of how non-appropriated funding would be spent, according to Senate
President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-25), Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-34),
Senate Appropriations Chairman Pat Browne (R-16), Senate Majority Whip John
Gordner (R-27) and Senate Education Committee Chairman Lloyd Smucker (R-13).
Senate Republicans took significant issue with a letter sent today to school
superintendents by Acting Education Secretary Pedro Rivera that required school districts
to submit spending plans for a portion of the suggested increased funding in the
Governors proposed 2015-16 budget.
This latest political stunt by the Wolf Administration completely disregards the
need for the legislative process, said Senator Scarnati. Governor Wolf and his
Administration are placing a significant burden on our school officials by mandating that
they complete these reports for funding, which has not been vetted by the Legislature.
Senate Republican leaders have been encouraging a sensible approach to planning
of school district budgets for the 2015-16 fiscal year, due to massive tax increases needed
to support the Governors proposed spending plans.
This letter is concerning for its obvious political posturing, said Senator
Corman. The influx of money into the schools is based on a mix of many historic tax
increases. We clearly dont have that money in the coffers at this point. In sworn
testimony, the Acting Budget Secretary asked that we look at the entire budget as a
whole. Yet in this letter, Wolfs Acting Education Secretary is requiring schools to look at
the budget piecemeal and account for spending money the state doesnt have. Placing this
mandate on our schools is premature. Asking the districts to jump through hoops to
provide plans for money that is part of a massive proposed overall budget burden is a
waste of valuable time and resources that should be dedicated to educating children.
We certainly understand the challenges school district administrators and school
boards face when appropriating their annual budgets in anticipation of state revenues,
said Senator Browne. However, it is vital that they use caution in counting on and

budgeting for any increases in state funding until an actual education spending bill is
approved by the state legislature and signed by the governor. The Senate Appropriations
Committee has just begun budget hearings and has yet to even hear testimony from the
Acting Secretary of Education. These budget hearings are the first opportunity members
have to hear, in more detail, the governors proposed budget and ask questions of each
department secretary before formulating a thoroughly thought-out plan to both fund
education and protect hardworking taxpayers.
The Administration seems to want to spend money that has yet to be
appropriated, said Senator Gordner. I met last week with school superintendents from
my area who indicated they plan to budget conservatively and are not counting on
receiving the entire increase called for in the Governors budget because they recognize
that the tax burden to fund such a proposal is not sustainable.
"We look forward to a vigorous discussion over the next few months about what
works to ensure every child in Pennsylvania has the opportunity for a world-class
education, said Senator Smucker. This process demands a high level of analysis and
collaboration. This letter, issued so early in the process, is premature and the antithesis of
that spirit of cooperation."
Each and every member of the Senate Republican Caucus desires to help provide
our students and teachers across Pennsylvania with the resources that they need to learn
and succeed, said Senator Scarnati. However, we cannot and will not continue to ask
more and more from taxpayers without addressing excessive cost drivers and the need for
pension reform.
Drew Crompton (Senator Scarnati), dcrompton@pasen.gov
Jenn Kocher (Senator Corman), jkocher@pasen.gov
Matt Moyer (Senator Browne), mmoyer@pasen.gov
Todd Roup (Senator Gordner), troup@pasen.gov
Matt Parido (Senator Smucker), mparido@pasen.gov