Patch Poll: Should Public School Funding Grant Be Linked to State Liquor Store Privatization?
Gov. Tom Corbett's 2013-14 budget ties sale of state liquor system to a $1 billion grant for school safety, early education programs, individualized learning and science/math programs.
Gov. Tom Corbett's proposed 2013-14 budget, which he presented Feb. 5, contains an interesting cocktail that mixes the sale of the state's liquor system with funding of a public schools grant.
Under his proposal, $1 billion obtained by the proposed privatization of the state's liquor sales would be used to create the Passport for Learning Block Grant that would focus on school safety; enhanced early education programs; individualized learning; and science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses and programs.
The $1 billion in revenue to fund that grant will come from the three- to four-year process of selling the Liquor Control Board: $575 million from the wholesale license process, $224 million from the Wine and Spirits retail auction process, $107 million from the wine/beer license application process and $112.5 million in the enhanced beer distributor application process.
Few would argue that they'd like to see the state's public schools made safer after the Sandy Hook shootings in Connecticut. Many realize the importance of early childhood education. Science, math, technology and engineering programs? Of course, children should be able to compete in the global market. And individualized learning programs? After PSSAs and No Child Left Behind, the realization that not all children fit in the same box might be viewed by some as a refreshing thought.
However, there are a few questions about what happens after the privatization process is completed. Will the funding provided by the grant simply disappear because the monies dry up? How effective are programs that might help a handful of children learn better or keep them safe for a few years if those initiatives are going to soon disappear for lack of funding?
Those questions become relevant because Corbett has said he hasn't cut money from public school funding over the past few years—that the federal stimulus money that temporarily funneled an additional $1.7 billion into Pennsylvania’s public education system just came to an end. That left cash-strapped local school districts with the hard choices of laying off teachers; closing schools; cutting music, art, library, languages, tutoring programs and full-day kindergarten while state elected officials chose not to find revenue to help its public schools.
The bigger question is whether Corbett's plan to link the demise of the state liquor system to the public school funding issue is an attempt to help the schools or leverage to get state legislators to vote in favor of the liquor privatization plan.
What do you think? Vote in our poll and tell us your views in the comments section below.