Pummeling the Poor

One item glared at me when I opened my browser to Google news this morning. The headline from the Philadelphia Inquirer screamed the news: Schools, city lose in budget. But don’t worry, taxes won’t rise. And business taxes will actually be lowered. Everyone knows business profits are more important than education and social services, right?

I didn’t have much luck analyzing the actual budget– it was way too long. However, I read Governor Tom Corbett’s euphemistic opening message, and enjoyed juxtaposing it with newspaper analysis of the budget cuts.

For example, the governor says, “Limiting the size and scope of government allows the public a better understanding of their investments.” Understanding their investments? Which part of the populace has investments? I wondered. Certainly not the 1500 state employees whose jobs are scheduled for elimination, or the public whom they serve. Not the poor who count on the slashed social service programs to help them find jobs.

Here’s another gem from the desk of Tom Corbett: “In education, this budget supports an agenda for excellence, a world-class education that enables all Pennsylvania children to achieve to their full potential.” Except children in Philadelphia, and other poor districts. The governor proposes cutting 1.1 billion dollars from the educational budget, according to Forbes.

More from the governor: “Components of the education reform agenda include expanding quality educational options, maximizing flexibility and providing mandate relief for local school districts, and raising the quality of publicly supported education.”

In Philadelphia and other poor districts who’ve been coerced into providing charter schools as alternatives forĀ  failing public schools, the cuts will be especially draconian. This year’s budget will not reimburse districts for charter schools.

In keeping with the Republican tradition of giving help only to those who don’t need it, funds for Philadelphia were slashed dramatically, while the wealthy Tredyffrin/Easttown School District got over eighty percent of their funding restored.

Let’s call this what it is: the plundering of big city public schools. What can they be thinking, castrating a system that delivers an education to the children who need it most? Children who fail in school, especially if they are black males, stand a high chance of going to jail or being killed.

The Philadelphia School District, by the way, is only 13.8% white. Can that have something to do with cuts in funding? In any event, those of any stripe who fail due to a lack of access to a quality education certainly don’t contribute to the tax base, or to society.

According to the governor, his budget “unleashes the potential for Pennsylvania innovation. It provides no increase in taxes and shrinks the size of government, easing the burdens on families and businesses.” I’m scratching my head trying to figure out how the burdens on families are eased. Easier to understand is how industry profits.

Shamelessly, Corbett goes on to claim, “This budget demonstrates our commitment to taking ownership of our financial burdens and not passing them on to the next generation.” Explain that to the students who planned on attending state universities, often the only educational institutions available to many city kids. State and community colleges will endure up to fifty percent in cuts.

This budget rips resources from the poor in order to avoid raising taxes on the rich, who already have such a high percentage of the wealth, and, of course, the sacred cows of Republicanism, corporations.

Instead of insuring the future of our state by investing in education, the governor chooses to protect the very businesses that destroy the quality of life in Pennsylvania. How about this: levy taxes on the gas-drilling industries, and pump up spending in schools and communities. What a concept!

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About Myra

I'm retired in Costa Rica, having lived in Philly, State College, Salem Mass, and Kawagoe Japan. You might call me a career gypsy, but my last and best job was teaching English to some of the best and brightest kids in Philly. I'm new to blogging and websites, and will probably make all the mistakes there are, but now I'm sharing my writing. I moved to Costa Rica in June of 2009 with my husband Jack, my dog Buddha, and Jack's two cats, Hobbes and Noir.
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