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Gov Corbett's Higher Math: PA Budget Set to Spend Twice as Much on Prisons as Schools

Gov. Tom Corbett is going around campaigning for re-election trying to excuse his ignominious cuts to public education by blaming the expired American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The stimulus bill (which Republicans repeatedly called "failed" in the 2012 elections) didn't fail at all - it kept 14,000 teachers employed teaching our children in public schools.

Corbett is telling voters that his $860 million cut in the 2011 budget wasn't his fault because the stimulus bill had expired and those federal funds were no longer available. That same bill somehow funded prisons and medical assistance, though.   

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Gov. Corbett found state funds to replace most of that spending while public education was slashed. The 2008-2009 state budgets actually devoted more money to education than Corbett is doing now - prior to the stimulus.

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Pennsylvania now spends twice as much on prisons as higher education:

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These charts are courtesy of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center. They illustrate that the Governor is attempting to fool voters by lying about his motives. Budgets are de facto lists of priorities, they reflect the Governor's intentions by assigning public funds to Pennsylvania's ostensible needs and wants. Corbett has cut corporate taxes while tossing hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians, including children, off health care and welfare. He has refused to expand Medicaid under the ACA and his budget priorities have hurt the Commonwealth's jobs situation.

Instead of funding public education the state is building three enormously costly new prisons. The state in 2011-12 incarcerated 49,000 inmates at a cost of $35,188 apiece, not including the costs of judiciary, inmate education, legal costs and capital projects.

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania spent $9.3 billion educating 1.8 million children in our public schools. That came to $5,305/child. The budgets are failing Pennsylvania's children and condemning too many of them to a life behind bars. The choice is either education or incarceration. Which bill is better for the state?  $35,000 or $5300?

The education cost study done during the Rendell Administration said we need around $12,000/child to adequately educate each. Tom Corbett is very much failing that standard. Uneducated people have great difficulty getting and keeping jobs. Without an educated workforce businesses will leave Pennsylvania or fail to locate here. 

Education is a "pay me now or pay me later" scenario.  Either invest in our children and create a dynamic economic future or continue with a failed school to prison pipeline.

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