Teachers rally in Harrisburg amid budget talks, layoffs

2012-06-13T22:15:00Z 2012-06-14T06:44:30Z Teachers rally in Harrisburg amid budget talks, layoffsThe Associated Press The Associated Press
June 13, 2012 10:15 pm  • 

HARRISBURG -- With state aid for public schools being discussed behind the Capitol's closed doors and a second straight year of large-scale layoffs looming, hundreds of educators, let-go teachers and parents packed the rotunda Wednesday at a raucous union rally to protest Gov. Tom Corbett's budget cuts.

Speaker after speaker aimed their wrath at the Republican governor as they bemoaned continuing furloughs of teachers and support staff, growing class sizes, and the elimination of tutoring, physical education, arts and other programs— possibly even kindergarten.

Demonstrators wearing pink T-shirts that said “Gov. Corbett gave me a pink slip’’ were scattered throughout the crowd.

“Mr. Governor, the question is this: Did you lie during your campaign to the voters of Pennsylvania, or did you turn your back on their children?’’ asked Bryan Sanguinito, a music teacher who is among more than 300 school employees who are losing their jobs in the Reading School District.

Ira Schneider, a fourth-grade teacher who was one of 150 employees furloughed by the York City School District, said the layoffs could flood the job market with veteran teachers, forcing new teachers to leave the state for work, and push experienced educators to leave the field altogether.

“It’s time to do what we all know is the right thing to do — put the money back into the education budget and provide our students with (the) well-rounded, thorough education they deserved. Their future and ours depends on it,’’ said Schneider, a teacher for 11 years.

In a radio interview Wednesday morning, Corbett, who campaigned on a pledge not to raise taxes and to push alternatives to public schools, said the economy is still recovering from a recession and is creating a difficult budget situation that nobody likes.

“There are an infinite number of requests for money and needs for money, but a finite amount of money,’’ Corbett said on IQ106.9-FM in Philadelphia. ``And you have to make tough decisions, and nobody really likes them. Everybody would like to have more money for their project, but they’re never willing to say, `Well, what project will you take it from?’’’

The rally, organized by the Pennsylvania State Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union, coincided with private budget talks between the governor and leaders of the GOP legislative majority this week. The discussions, to which Democrats have not been invited, are focused in part on how far the school aid cuts Corbett has proposed for the budget year starting July 1 should be rolled back.

Negotiations on a $27 billion-plus budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 are moving slowly as Corbett tries to tamp down the Legislature’s spending demands in favor of putting money in reserve to prepare for spiraling public employee pension costs.

Corbett is also pressing lawmakers to take action on a range of his priorities in the limited time they have left this month before they leave Harrisburg for the summer.

Perhaps the most controversial of those priorities is a $1.7 billion, 25-year tax credit beginning in 2017 to foster a petrochemical industry fueled by the state’s bountiful reservoir of natural gas. It would be the largest financial incentive package in the state’s history, lawmakers say, and is being panned by critics as corporate welfare.

“There’s a give and take; there’s a little bit of push and shove,’’ said House Speaker Sam Smith, R-Jefferson, after meeting privately with other top Republican lawmakers. ``We’re just backing up a step and reassessing what we can do, what the governor needs to do or what he needs to complete a budget.’’

That aside, the sides are agreed on a no-new-taxes budget that cuts taxes by $275 million for businesses and eliminates a $150 million welfare cash benefit for nearly 70,000 adults who cannot work temporarily because of a disability or are seeking Social Security disability benefits.

State aid for public schools in 2011-12, Corbett’s first budget year, shrank by about $860 million, or more than 10 percent. Corbett’s budget plan for next year would hold most school aid relatively flat, but eliminate a $100 million grant program that helps pay for full-day kindergarten. In addition to restoring that, lawmakers are seeking to add $50 million for an as-yet undefined group of so-called distressed school districts.

With cuts in state aid piling onto stagnant local tax revenue and rising costs, some lawmakers worry that the state will be faced with a wave of school districts in Pennsylvania’s struggling small cities that are unable to open their doors this year or next.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(13) Comments

  1. nbostp
    Report Abuse
    nbostp - June 20, 2012 6:16 pm
    The taxpayer should have got their own group of people to go down and protest the teachers chanting "CUT YOUR PENSIONS!! CUT YOUR PENSIONS!!. If the teachers truly cared about their fellow employees jobs being cut they would realize that they have scammed the taxpayer and system in such a way with their pensions that the districts had no choice but to cut jobs if the market crashed. How else would they be able to continue paying their guaranteed 8% increase every year?
  2. michael
    Report Abuse
    michael - June 18, 2012 8:41 am
    ericblair said: "Who says you can't fool all of the peole all of the time. Now unions are dead Michael how long will it take for prosperity to return to the middle class? A year, two more????"
    The unions have fooled you for years. Do you have super seniority Eric, or do you work in headquarters? I have done very well for my entire worklife WITHOUT any union representation. It is called a work ethic. Communism is only good if everyone is broke, ask Trumka. He's one.

  3. TheHappyCynic
    Report Abuse
    TheHappyCynic - June 17, 2012 3:22 am
    ericblairsaid on: June 16, 2012, 9:28 pm

    Eric, you make some good points; however, the unions have been more of a destructive force for decades now. Thousands and thousands of American jobs are now overseas because the unions were driving companies into bankrupcy. Don't believe me, look no further than GM or Chrysler, or to America's rust belt, or the fact that America's new idustrial heartland is the South. The unions no longer represent the middle class' interests, and haven't for awhile.
  4. ericblair
    Report Abuse
    ericblair - June 16, 2012 9:35 pm
    michael said: "The King has no clothes Eric. Better America, for a PSEA member. "

    Who says you can't fool all of the peole all of the time. Now unions are dead Michael how long will it take for prosperity to return to the middle class? A year, two more????
  5. ericblair
    Report Abuse
    ericblair - June 16, 2012 9:33 pm
    TheHappyCynic said: "@Ericblair" This union has been crushed by the apathy of its members."No offense Eric, but maybe you should take that as a hint. That, and the fact that something like 40% of union households in WI voted for Walker. , WI's 2nd largest pubic sector union has seen its membership drop by 50% "


    I am sure these former union memebrs will get everything they justly deserve without the union, and hopefully they will tell us how much better off they all are.
  6. ericblair
    Report Abuse
    ericblair - June 16, 2012 9:28 pm
    cynic, I think you are right, the people have spoken. I am not sure if they thought about it so much as being outspent by the anti union interests who have won, but I believe the nation as a whole has lost. If unionism is loosing I don't see the middle class winning or prosperity returning . If you see any indication of this please alert me. We are all getting poorer.
  7. michael
    Report Abuse
    michael - June 15, 2012 2:00 pm
    The King has no clothes Eric.
    Better America, for a PSEA member.
  8. Steve V
    Report Abuse
    Steve V - June 15, 2012 6:31 am
    There was no need for CASD teachers to be there. They have the school board taking very good care of them. The school board and the union president work tirelessly to get the teachers higher salaries, fewer work days, dress down Fridays and better benefits. While other districts are laying off teachers, our board votes for no furlough guarantees. Of course, it’s all for the kids. At some point the board—and the citizens—will realize they are failing this community, despite all the good news.
  9. TheHappyCynic
    Report Abuse
    TheHappyCynic - June 15, 2012 2:30 am
    @Ericblair

    " This union has been crushed by the apathy of its own members."

    No offense Eric, but maybe you should take that as a hint. That, and the fact that something like 40% of union households in WI voted for Walker. Additionally, WI's 2nd largest pubic sector union has seen its membership drop by 50% since Walker passed his bill. There is something rotten, and it just might be the unions. Evidently, even many union members realize this.

  10. ericblair
    Report Abuse
    ericblair - June 14, 2012 3:58 pm
    Only three hundred people protesting, there should be tens of thousands, parents, grandparents, teenagers, teachers and anyone with a vested in interest in a better America. In 1968 PSEA turned out 20,000 teachers in a protest. In 2001 in a snow storm 7,000 teachers turned out, and here we are in 2012 with the most severe cuts ever and only 300 bother to turn out. I am sure when things get really bad more teachers will show up. This union has been crushed by the apathy of its own members.
  11. michael
    Report Abuse
    michael - June 14, 2012 12:36 pm
    They think they own you if you ever go to them and get help.
    Nothing like having two bosses, and you get to pay one of them in the form of dues.

    The Unions need to be CRUSHED.
  12. rootin
    Report Abuse
    rootin - June 14, 2012 9:08 am
    you're exactly right, HappyCynic. Given enough time, unions wreck the careers they are there to "fight/arm-twist" for. The postal system, Auto industry, manufacturing, and on the list goes - trashed. Unions HAD their time when they were actually a benefit, but are no longer needed. Since when does the employee go to the employer and DEMAND a wage? You get paid what the job can afford - you dont like it - get a new job! Nearly 300 applications come in for any posted teaching position anyhow!
  13. TheHappyCynic
    Report Abuse
    TheHappyCynic - June 14, 2012 1:28 am
    Take a look at Wisconsin. THE PEOPLE have spoken. These teachers, and their unions, are concerned about everything BUT the children and their education.
Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick

Follow The Sentinel

A Closer Look

A Closer Look: Agencies involved with some regulation on farming

A Closer Look: Agencies involved with some regulation on farming

A consumer normally doesn’t find a random cow, take the milk directly from the cow and then place it in the refrigerator.

June 27, 2015 9:00 pm Photos

Photos

(0)

Graduation 2015: Midstate graduates head into a still recovering economy

Graduation 2015: Midstate graduates head into a still recovering economy

Graduation season is here, and for many high school seniors it is a time of great joy mixed with trepidation.

June 05, 2015 8:15 pm Photos

Photos

Related (0)

Some Midstate residents unhappy with FEMA flood maps

Some Midstate residents unhappy with FEMA flood maps

When Tropical Storm Agnes hit Cumberland County in June 1972, it left behind more than $40 million in damage.

March 22, 2015 7:00 am Photos

Photos

Related (3)

Latest NASCAR News