Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Philly lawmakers to the rescue?

Philly state lawmakers are speaking out on the school-funding crisis. I feel certain our problems are all over now.

Philly lawmakers to the rescue?

And so in the heat of the city's school funding crisis at least two of Philly's two-dozen-plus state lawmakers are offering sound, solid solutions.

Well, at least in their own minds.

I'd note that schools are run by the state and that citizens of the city elect representatives to the state in order to work on their behalf with the state.

And since the city has more representatives in the Legislature than any other municipality in the state one might wonder just what all those elected officials are doing about city schools.

Wonder no more.

With an immediate need for money, decisions and leadership, at least one pair of veteran lawmakers -- 39-year incumbent Rep. Mark Cohen and 18-year incumbent Sen. Tina Tartaglione, both Democrats -- are raising holy hell and calling for urgent action.

Tartaglione issued a statement saying, "Our funding system is broken and in need of serious repair." And "children deserve the best teachers we can give them." And "these children are our job creators for our future." And that district employee concessions or "finding various things to tax at various times" is not the answer.

The answer, she wrote, is a "major overhaul."

Finally, somebody with an idea!

Cohen sent a letter to Gov. Corbett and legislative leaders with copies to "all (253) House Members and Senators," calling the school-funding issue a "crisis of massive and extraordinary proportions."

He also thinks employee concessions are not in order and calls for an elected Philadelphia school board with taxing authority and dedicated (presumably new) statewide taxes for basic education.

More importantly, he asks that this "urgent matter" be addressed if any education reform package is considered by the Legislature "in this session" -- which doesn't end until late next year.

So. What's the problem? Just do a major overhaul, elect a school board, raise statewide taxes, do it sometime before the end of next year and, voila, problem solved.

And you probably thought you weren't getting your money's worth from your elected state lawmakers.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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