This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
As Pennsylvania lawmakers appear to be at a stalemate over a cigarette tax proposal for Philadelphia schools, advocates worry that tax-averse legislators have a fundamental misunderstanding of their city’s situation.
An "us-vs.-them" mentality pervades any debate involving education funding for the Philadelphia School District. Many Republican lawmakers have balked at the notion of approving a tax authorization for Philadelphia when it doesn’t benefit their own districts.
Rep. Brian Ellis, R-Butler, said as much to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
"The reality is, we’ve continued to give more and more and more to Philadelphia schools than my school districts get here in Butler County," he said. "The legislative process by nature is a give-and-take process. And without that give-and-take process, there’s no reason to go back to Harrisburg until September."
Rep. Seth Grove, R-York, one of the House lawmakers who pulled his support for the tax authorization last week, said he has a hard time voting for a bill that singles out the Philadelphia School District without helping other parts of the state.
"They can raise property taxes. There’s nothing stopping them from raising property taxes," Grove said. "This is about not raising property taxes in Philadelphia, while the rest of the state has raised property taxes."