Budget Secretary Charles Zogby addressed the Pennsylvania Press Club Monday, fielding questions on a variety of budget issues without giving away much detail about Governor Tom Corbett's forthcoming spending plan. (The governor delivers his budget address on February 5 to a joint session of the state House and Senate.)
Secretary Zogby did suggest that more cuts could be on the way for public schools if the state does not make changes to the pension system, which could include reducing the future retirement benefits of current teachers and state employees.
As Jan Murphy of the Harrisburg Patriot-News reports, the linking of education funding to pensions is not sitting well with advocates for school children, including the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center:
That linkage, however, has drawn opposition from Pennsylvania State Education Association’s President Mike Crossey, who said in a news release this morning, “It looks like the governor is ready to hold Pennsylvania’s students and taxpayers hostage if he doesn’t get his way on other issues.”
Sharon Ward, director of the liberal-leaning of Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center in Harrisburg, called it a “false choice,” particularly after cutting $1 billion from public education two years ago.
“If you take money out of the classroom, you got to put money into the classroom,” she said. “And the governor has an obligation to undo some of the damage that was done to our school students regardless of what happens on the pension side.”