State House approves final budget item that includes $45 million for Philly schools

The state House returned briefly today to wrap up some unfinished budget business which included a key piece of funding for the struggling Philadelphia School District.

Tucked away in what is known as the fiscal code, which the state House approved today was a one-time $45 million infusion for Philly schools. The state Senate is expected to sign off on it Wednesday and will make its way to Gov. Corbett's desk the same day.

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ASSOCIATED PRESS The legislative branch got $4 million, boosting its budget to $277 million (plus a lot of add-ons).

"We know that funding is very much needed," said state Rep. Cherelle Parker, chairwoman of the Philadelphia Delegation.

The $45 million, was money freed up under a deal hashed out between the federal government and the state for an outstanding debt in which it was agreed the money would be used to help fund the school district. That funding was in limbo after a Senate Committee made last minute changes to the code at the close of budget season.

The school district is grappling with a $304 million budget gap and requested $60 million from the city, $120 million from the state and $133 million from its unions. 

So far the district is set to get $28 million from the city as promised by Mayor Nutter from increased tax collections, $50 million to be borrowed against an extension of the 1 percent Philadelphia sales tax, the aforementioned $45 million and $15.9 million in state aid --a majority of which the district had already included in its budget.

Meanwhile, state Sen. Anthony Williams plans on taking another crack this fall at passing a $2 per pack tax on cigarettes which died this pass budget season. A cigarette tax would get the school district $46 million in the first year, but chances of the city ever getting enabling legislation appear slim.

Parker called the measures a "band-aid approach."

"We cannot shift the burden to local government," she said. "That is not a victory."

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