This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
The election of Ed Rendell as governor of Pennsylvania may be the prelude to legislative action in 2003 on new ways to fund education in the commonwealth.
Rendell has consistently pledged to increase state funding for public education and boost the state’s share of total education costs from 35 percent to 50 percent. Over the past two decades, as state aid for education failed to keep pace with spending, local property taxes in communities across Pennsylvania have soared.
Rendell’s campaign proposals also included funding for full-day kindergarten statewide, high-quality preschool programs, and reduced class size in grades K-3. With the state facing a ballooning budget deficit, Rendell has acknowledged that it will be hard to find funding for his whole education agenda.
But one sign of the ongoing frustration with the current school funding approach is that Republican legislators continue to be at the forefront in pushing for new state taxes that would both boost state education aid and allow a shift away from property taxes.
An increase in the income tax is the route being pushed in bills introduced by two Republican legislators – state Sen. James Rhoades, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, and state Rep. state government.
More information on school funding proposals is available at the website of the Pennsylvania School Reform Network: www.psrn.org/campaign.html.