PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — As school districts across the state struggle to adopt budgets for the next school year without help from Harrisburg, the talk of laying off teachers, cutting programs and raising local property taxes has gotten louder.
“This is something I’ve been talking about. The state needs, in my estimation, needs to take a bigger share of funding public education,” said Gov. Tom Wolf. “We’re 45th in the country in terms of the state share of public education funding, which means that too much, in my view, rests on the shoulders of local taxpayers.”
In a sit-down interview, the governor repeated his call for the state legislature to help local school districts.
In his first budget, Gov. Wolf called for a $400 million increase in basic education funding from the state. He got $200 million.
Gov. Wolf: “Ended up getting about $200 million in basic education.”
KDKA’s Jon Delano: “You’re still short?”
Gov. Wolf: “We’re still short, and we need to do more to keep bringing the school districts back and that’s been my goal from day one.”
Gov. Wolf has asked for an additional $200 million in the 2016-17 budget now being debated by the legislature.
“Legislators on both sides of the aisle understand the state needs to do a better job of funding public education,” he said.
Last year, to fund more help for local school districts, Gov. Wolf recommended a hike in the state’s personal income tax.
But this year, an election year, Gov. Wolf says that won’t happen. He wouldn’t get specific, but says he’s negotiating with legislators for alternative sources of revenue to help schools.
“We haven’t finished the negotiations, but I think there’s a real recognition on both sides that we don’t want to have a long, drawn-out impasse.”
Gov. Wolf joined the “KDKA Morning News” with Larry Richert and John Shumway and said the state needs to pay its portion to help schools.
“We push the responsibility too often to the local level for funding of education, if we do a better job at the state level, that’s going to release some pressure [on the schools],” he said.
Listen to the entire interview here: