PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Gov. Tom Wolf toured Brashear High School’s career and technical education program on Thursday where he saw first-hand some of the thirteen CTE skills training efforts that could be cut if the legislature and governor fail to reach agreement on a budget.
“Let’s make sure we have the revenues we need that we all understand we need to make sure that places like CTE really, really continue to exist and thrive, and programs like this expand,” Wolf told students, teachers, and administrators.
These particular programs, that range from auto body repair to multimedia production and coding, prepare students for either entry level employment or college education.
But Wolf warned they are at risk, along with traditional basic educational programs in our public schools.
Because the state has run out of money, and the Republican-controlled legislature, says the governor, won’t address the budget deficit.
“Four months from now, starting July 1st, we have a $2 billion fiscal deficit in Harrisburg. We’re not going to be able to pay for programs like this,” says Wolf.
“In fact, not only are we not going to be able to pay for programs like this, we’re going to take money out of programs like this to the tune of close a billion dollars across the state.”
On Wednesday the legislature approved another budget, but Wolf says it short-changes education and doesn’t address the deficit.
“I will veto that.”
Wolf says he knows this could put some schools in short-term pain with maybe some closings, but he says the long-term gain is worth hanging tough now.
“We’ve got to get this right. And fixing this for another three months or four months and coming back and having exactly the same conversation in July, August, September, is not going to get us much.”
Wolf claimed the failure of the Republican-controlled legislature to enact a budget that raises taxes for education was jeopardizing their future of these young people.
“We are trying to buck a trend that has been going on for a long, long time in Harrisburg, and that is the myth that you can get something for nothing.”
Wolf said the state faced a two billion dollar deficit this summer
“Pennsylvania is running out of money. We have been using smoke and mirrors in our budgets. We have been spending money we don’t have. As a result, we are not going to be able to afford to invest in programs like this.”
The governor has called on the legislature to raise the needed revenues with a hike in the state’s sales tax or personal income tax, but most Republican lawmakers have rejected that.
On Wednesday, the legislature passed another budget that the governor promised to veto for short-changing schools.
Republicans accuse wolf of holding students hostage, Paul Engelkemier, deputy communications for the state GOP, saying, “For the past eight months, Tom Wolf has single-handedly held our students hostage by denying them $3 billion dollars in funding and wants us to forget.”
Wolf says partial short-term closings may be the price to get a long-term solution to the funding crisis.
“I support fully what goes on here. I want this place to thrive. We can’t do that if we keep doing what we’ve been doing and that is having sham budgets.”