Supporters of Republican State Rep. Doyle Heffley and Governor Tom Corbett are lauding the fact that the state budget was passed on-time for the first time in nine years. However, this "on-time" budget is crippling the middle class in Carbon County.
A look at the actual numbers leaves no doubt who suffers from the draconian cuts implemented. Harrisburg policymakers fell in line with Washington lobbyists who demanded "no new taxes or fees" and big industry like the Marcellus Shale energy companies benefitted from failure to enact regulations and a rollback of corporate business taxes. Meanwhile, school children, teachers, and the taxpayers who fund our local school districts will see the big hit.
When reviewing state appropriations for our five local school districts, the numbers are staggering: Panther Valley will see $691 less per student, Lehighton $481, Weatherly $468, Palmerton $449, and Jim Thorpe $205. Only 35 school districts out of 500 statewide will lose more per student than Panther Valley for fiscal year 2011-2012. When you take into account the basic education subsidy school districts receive in addition to things like monies for PA Accountability Grant and Charter School reimbursements, the numbers are shocking. Jim Thorpe will do with 15.3 percent less than they received last year, $486,469. Lehighton will receive 12.5 percent less, $1,184,711. Palmerton 13.1percent, $934,747. Panther Valley 13.7 percent, $1,211,889. Weatherly 10.1 percent, $337,522.
As a whole, Carbon County schools will see more than $4 million less this year. Mr. Heffley voted in favor of the proposed spending plan saying it helped "working class families." Don't believe his spin. "Working class families" will see education programs cut, teachers lose their jobs, and higher property taxes. Just like his failed campaign promise to keep the Lansford district office open, Mr. Heffley will say what it takes to gain votes and win elections, regardless of the truth. As his constituents, we deserve better.