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Posts Tagged ‘CLEAR Coalition’

Over the past couple of days an article from the Morning Call, “House GOP: Lessen Education Cuts,” has been making the rounds on PASSHE faculty and students email lists, facebook pages, and twitter.  The article has gotten some ground because of the title and lead paragraph:

Republicans who control the state House will introduce a counter-offer to Gov. Tom Corbett’s budget proposal that largely undoes his deeper cuts to public and higher education in part by spending less on public welfare programs.

For schools and universities facing 50%+ cuts in their state appropriations, this is good news, right?  If you read on, the situation looks even better.  The new Republican budget proposal (details of the budget proposal should be released tomorrow) seems to underscore an emerging narrative that Pennsylvania Republicans legislators are, indeed, reasonable.  I mean, it certainly looks like their bucking the more draconian cuts favored by the Governor.  Just look at the support the Republican legislators are throwing to education :

• Increase funding for higher education line items by $380 million, with schools in the state System of Higher Education getting a $195 million increase. State-related Temple, Lincoln and Penn State universities and the University of Pittsburgh would receive 75 percent of their current allocations. Funding for higher education programs was slashed by 50 percent in the administration’s budget proposal.

• Increase overall state funding for kindergarten through 12th grade education by $210 million. This would ensure every district receives at least as much money as it did in 2008-09, a spokesman said. Under Corbett’s plan, not all would.

• Appropriate $100 million for Accountability Block Grants, which districts use to fund after-school tutoring and other programs. State support for those grants was eliminated in the administration’s budget proposal.

• Set aside $43 million to help school districts meet their Social Security payments.

Good stuff, no?  Well, that depends.  Note that the $380 million “increase” to higher education and the $195 million “increase” to PASSHE are not actually “increases” in state appropriations.  The Morning Call article simply reproduces the language of the Republican proposal.  If you do the math, Corbett’s budget reduces state appropriations to PASSHE from $503 million to $233 million.  The total cuts are actually a bit more than this when you factor in several additional cuts in fees and line items for PASSHE.  But, for ease of argument, let’s use these numbers.

The House Republican plan “increases” PASSHE’s funds by $195.  Really what they are proposing is a $75 million cut to PASSHE.  That is, if you add $195 million to Corbett’s $233 million dollar proposal, you get $428 million.  That’s still about a 15% cut of base appropriations…again, not considering the additional cuts to PASSHE in Corbett’s budget.  Those cuts remain which makes the PA House Republican proposal closer to a 20% cut.  Now, is that better than a 54% cut?  No doubt.  But this is “good” only if you accept the premise for the necessity of the cuts to begin with.  We have to keep in mind that Corbett and the House Republicans have refused to address the state  REVENUE problem by taxing drilling in the Marcellus shale region or by closing the Delaware Corporate Tax Loophole.

And what about the newly released reports that PA has exceeded official projections by $506 million dollars?  Put another way, now that PA has $506 million more than it expected, surely the Governor and the House Republicans will use that money to lessen their proposed budget cuts, right?  Not a chance.  Bloomberg Businessweek reports that Corbett is arguing against using any of the $506 surplus lessen budget cuts:

Gov. Tom Corbett on Tuesday poured cold water on optimism from some legislators that a growing state cash surplus could be used to ease spending cuts he is proposing to such areas as education, saying it might be wiser to hold the money in reserve or use it to pay down debt.

The House Republicans are singing the same tune.

What this should tell us is that Corbett and the House Republicans are committed to cutting public education and privatizing what’s left of the Commons–even if they have to tap the brakes to slow down how fast they do it.  By refusing to consider the revenue side of the budget equation (e.g. taxing Marcellus shale drilling, closing the Delaware loophole) and standing behind his unilateral decision to hand out $200 million in corporate tax breaks earlier this year, Corbett is waging a war against all things public.

By going after education, Corbett may have slightly miscalculated the strong response from Pennsylvania citizens.  However, he may have inadvertently given himself a distraction that would allow his House Republican troops to wage the class war.

The Morning Call article reporting on the “reasonable” House Republicans standing behind Pennsylvania public education may have given faculty, teachers, students and education advocates reason to breathe a sigh of relief.  However, as Luzerne County’s CitizensVoice reports:

The GOP proposal will offer up to $500 million of cuts in public welfare spending in order to spare public schools and state-supported universities from deep cuts proposed by Gov. Tom Corbett.

That’s right.  The House Republican budget robs Peter to pay Paul.  It restores some funding to schools and universities by stripping funding for public welfare spending.  Education funded on the backs of poor and working class Pennsylvanians.  I am sure there are some Republican strategists who hope that teachers and students are going to take the money and run.  It’s a classic divide and conquer strategy.  And, face it, it’s easier road to go after those who don’t have lobbyists speaking on their behalf.  The House Republican budget is set up, if not designed, to ask those of us in education to make a devil’s bargain: to take care of ourselves and toss the least of our brothers and sisters to the wolves.

Last week’s Rally for a Responsible Budget in Harrisburg was sponsored by the CLEAR Coalition, a coalition of labor unions ranging from higher education faculty to fire fighters.  The House Republican budget proposal seeks to pit the education sector against the service sector, faculty against fire fighters, teachers against technicians.  Furthermore, the House Republican budget proposal dangles a carrot in front of educators, hoping that we will confirm the image they have painted for us in the media: that we are a greedy bunch who only care about taking care of their own interests.  If we take the bait, then we deserve what we get.

In my mind, the CLEAR Coalition represented a strong start to an alliance that has the potential to raise all boats and reclaim our Commonwealth.  When I signed my name to join the CLEAR Coalition, I was making a pledge to my brothers and sisters from PA AFL-CIO, AFSCME, AFT, APSCUF, PPFFA, PSEA, SEIU, and UFCW to be there.  That’s no small pledge.  To recall the slogan of the IWW that is as good today as ever: An Injury to One, Is and Injury to All.

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Check out the link below if you are interested in some pictures from yesterday’s “Rally for a Responsible Budget” in Harrisburg.

Pics from May 3rd “Rally for a Responsible Budget,” Harrisburg, PA

May 4, 2011By ktmahoney

Of the three major rallies in Harrisburg I’ve attended since Gov. Corbett proposed draconian cuts to the state budget, the “Rally for a Responsible Budget” organized by the CLEAR Coalition was by far the largest.  The energy in the air was electric.  Chants of “We are one!” and “Enough is Enough!” echoed through the city as thousands and thousands of union activists filled the Capitol steps and the surrounding lawns.  It was a day that had me tweeting: “Today is another reason I thank god every day for the labor movement  #paunion #pabudget #offthecouch#enough.”  And it’s true.  There is nothing more life-affirming that being with thousands of other people who, day after day, choose dignity over despair, solidarity over isolation, and action over retreat.

via Pics from May 3rd “Rally for a Responsible Budget,” Harrisburg, PA | Raging Chicken Press.

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State APSCUF’s appeal to join today’s Rally for a Responsible Budget in Harrisburg:

Rally for a Responsible State Budget in Harrisburg Tomorrow [TODAY!!!!]

Posted on May 2, 2011 by apscuf

If you still haven’t made it to Harrisburg to stand and be counted in the state budget fight, tomorrow is another great opportunity with the Rally for a Responsible Budget, sponsored by the CLEAR Coalition.

Thousands of people will travel from all across Pennsylvania to participate in the rally and meet with their elected officials. The event’s speakers will be ordinary people – custodians, teachers, health care workers, seniors – people who would experience the disastrous effects if the Corbett budget proposal goes through.

When policymakers are in Harrisburg debating the budget, it can often seem like a prosaic affair. Legislators wander the floor of the House and Senate, while staffers pass around spreadsheets with lines of numbers and acronyms that represent various programs.

Our state representatives and senators need a human face to put with all of these line items. They need to know someone who would be impacted by their decision to eliminate a program or slash a funding stream. That’s what tomorrow’s event is all about – making a human connection to the programs and services that would be cut under Corbett’s proposed budget.

Before and after the rally at 1 p.m. on the Capitol steps, participants will go around the Capitol and talk with their representatives and senators. They will ask their elected officials to vote for a responsible budget, one that is fair and asks for shared sacrifice from all Pennsylvanians. There are alternatives to cutting and more cutting.

As members of APSCUF, we know the implications of a 50-percent cut to the State System. It would be devastating for our schools, our students and our communities. You probably know an anecdote about a gifted student that might not return next year if tuition jumps by thousands of dollars. Or maybe you know about a valuable program or course of study that is slated for the chopping block. These are the stories that our state legislators need to hear, and they need to hear them from you.

It’s not too late to join the Rally for a Responsible Budget. Here’s the page to register and arrange transportation: http://ow.ly/4Le6n. We hope to see you there.

via Rally for a Responsible State Budget in Harrisburg Tomorrow « APSCUF’s Blog.

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Dear friends of the XChange,

If you are a reader of this blog, you already know about today’s Rally for a Responsible Budget in Harrisburg.  This rally is being spearheaded by the CLEAR Coalition for PA, of which APSCUF is a part.

Here’s the official call for participation from the CLEAR Coalition web page.

Join us on Tuesday, May 3rd from 1:00-2:00 in Harrisburg on the front steps of the State Capitol. We are expecting thousands of people to come out and stand up for a fair state budget. The buses are full so, but please join us by drivng yourself to Harrisburg to stand with us!

APSCUF-KU is not sponsoring buses for this trip in part because the CLEAR Coalition has organized buses around the state.  All you had to do was sign up and you could have taken a bus for free.  KU faculty members were informed of this rally a while back by our State APSCUF president, Steve Hicks through direct email.  I am hoping to see some of my colleagues there today.  I know that several of our AFSCME brothers and sisters will be there.  I  know that many students will be there (despite the fact it’s finals time).  This will be our last major rally before the end of the spring semester.

So, if you haven’t committed already, consider driving out today.  Follow this link for driving directions to the State Capitol from Kutztown.

If you cannot attend the rally, take a few minutes and check out the CLEAR Coalition’s web page for very useful action-oriented budget information such as a Budget Took Kit:

If you can’t make it to the rally and are sick of hearing about the budget, then I wish you a great end to the semester, a summer of relaxation, and the hopes we’ll all have jobs come the fall.

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Great video from the CLEAR Coalition explaining the Delaware loophole and how it allows corporations to operate in PA without paying their fair share.

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