MEMO: Scott Wagner’s Education Lies Are Dangerous for Pennsylvania

To: Editorial Board Editors

From: Beth Melena, communications director, Tom Wolf for Governor

RE: Scott Wagner’s Education Lies Are Dangerous for Pennsylvania

Date: July 13, 2018

Governor Wolf has always believed that we must fully and adequately invest in public education, which is why he has fully restored the one billion dollar cut to education made by Harrisburg Republicans and is fighting for additional investments in education and workforce development. In the latest budget, Governor Wolf fought to increase education funding by more than $314 million. These investments are strengthening our education system and helping build a stronger economy. Under Governor Wolf, Pennsylvania has:

  • Increased the number of children attending pre-kindergarten by nearly 50 percent.

  • Increased the number of students in career and technical education programs by 42 percent.

  • Increased the high school graduation rate to nearly 90 percent.

These are facts, which makes Scott Wagner’s recent lies claiming that Governor Wolf wants to cut education funding particularly alarming.

Scott Wagner is falsely accusing the governor of supporting the anti-education policies that Wagner himself has championed. Scott Wagner’s hypocrisy once again highlights that he is ultimate Harrisburg insider.

“No doubt, one of the most needed changes in the way we fund schools is the elimination of what is called the ‘hold harmless’ clause. Essentially, this prevents any school district from receiving less money than it did the year before.” [Pottstown Mercury, Scott Wagner Op-Ed, 3/25/15]

Scott Wagner’s record on education doesn’t stop there. He would be detrimental to our children. Wagner has:

  • Supported Harrisburg Republicans’ $1 billion cut to education.

  • Called for laying off 10% of teachers in Pennsylvania.

  • Supported school choice legislation that would strip billions from public education.

  • Explicitly said he would not devote more money to public schools.

Scott Wagner’s gross lies about Governor Wolf’s education record are exactly what is wrong with today’s political environment. But even more troubling is Wagner’s actual record on education.

The facts matter. It’s time to call Scott Wagner out for what he is: an anti-education candidate who doesn’t think twice about blatantly lying to Pennsylvanians.

BACKGROUND

Wagner Supported Harrisburg Republicans $1 Billion Cut to Education.

“INTERVIEWER: Well, they say the Governor runs the largest corporation in the state.  He is the chief executive officer of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He’s come out with some pretty dramatic changes for the budget in this coming season, but we still have ⅔ of Pennsylvanians are opposed to the cuts in education.  If you were to give him advice, would you tell him to stick to his guns on these dramatic cuts that he’s making across the board. Education’s hit the worst, but everybody’s getting hit.

WAGNER: Yes, I believe that Governor Corbett needs to stick to his plan.” [Behind the Headlines, 5/23/11]

Wagner Advocated for Laying off 10% of Teachers in Pennsylvania. “‘We have 180,000 teachers in the state of Pennsylvania,’ Wagner said. ‘If we laid off 10 percent of the teachers in the state of Pennsylvania, we’d never miss them.’” [ABC27, 06/29/15]

Wagner Would Not Devote More Money To Public Schools. “To a great extent, it appeared that two candidates — Paul Mango and Scott Wagner — would be unwilling to devote more money to public schools…. Scott Wagner…said he believes the state spends ‘enough money’ on public schools, while stressing the need for frugality, fewer regulations and more accountability.” [Associated Press, 3/7/18]

Wolf Restored Education “Cuts Make Under The Previous Administration.” “Since the governor took office, Pennsylvania has made sustained investments in education, including restoring the cuts made under the previous administration, increasing the number of children able to attend pre-kindergarten by nearly 50 percent, and enacting a fair funding formula.” [Times Leader, 2/04/18]

Governor Wolf Has Invested One Billion Dollars in Education Since He Took Office. “[Governor Wolf] has secured roughly half of the education money he had initially set out as a goal — $2 billion over four years — and suggests he has dealt for good with an entrenched post-recession deficit he inherited.” [AP,7/1/18]

EDITORIAL: Governor Wolf Increased Education Funding In State Budget. “There are things to like here, including millions more for Wolf’s pet project, education, which stands to see another $100 million more for public schools, $254 million more for early childhood education, and $15 million for special education. It is hoped that a 3 percent boost in funding for state-related universities, including Penn State, will convince officials to hold the line on tuition. Overall the plan increases spending by about $700 million, about 2 percent more than last year’s budget. Wolf backed off his routine of asking for huge increases in spending and hefty tax hikes.”  [Delco Times, Editorial, 6/24/18]

Wagner Op-Ed: “One Of The Most Needed Changes In The Way We Fund Schools Is The Elimination Of What Is Called The ‘Hold Harmless’ Clause.” “With respect to the current funding formula, the Basic Education Funding Commission is conducting hearings throughout the state, and we all anxiously await its findings. No doubt, one of the most needed changes in the way we fund schools is the elimination of what is called the “hold harmless” clause. Essentially, this prevents any school district from receiving less money than it did the year before.” [Pottstown Mercury, Scott Wagner Op-Ed, 3/25/15]

Wagner Criticized Pennsylvania’s Hold Harmless Policy At A Campaign Event In Erie County.“State Sen. Scott Wagner brought his campaign for governor to Erie County on Thursday … Asked about the struggling Erie School District, Wagner said he would address the state’s inequitable school funding system by looking at each school district individually. He criticized the state’s “hold harmless” policy, which ensures that each school district receives no fewer state dollars than it received the previous year.” [GoErie.com, 1/12/17]

Wagner Called Pennsylvania’s Hold Harmless System “A Total Mess.” “At least on one side of the education funding debate, Wagner could find some unlikely allies. He has critiqued inequities among Pennsylvania school districts, and called the state’s ‘hold harmless’ system — which has benefited shrinking, mostly rural districts by holding their state education dollars steady over time — ‘a total mess.’ That’s an issue that divides advocates more based on geography than political party, and Wagner’s stance here is akin to many progressive voters in urban centers such as Philadelphia and Reading.” [WHYY, 5/17/18]

AUDIO: Wagner Called Pennsylvania’s Hold Harmless Provision For Education Funding “Madness.” “But right now it is just an open checkbook. And then we have over in Berks County there is a school district that actually has declining student population, and we have something called Hold Harmless in Pennsylvania which means that that school district does not get less than they did last year, so it might be flat, I mean last year they might have gotten 5 million from the state and this year they will get 5 million but their student population could have dropped by 10% which means technically they are receiving more per student than they did say several years ago. I mean this is why I made a decision to run for governor, because this is madness. We have got to do something.” [News Talk 103.7, The Drive, 00:30:25, 4/05/17]

AUDIO: Wagner Said That Because Of Hold Harmless School Districts With Declining Enrollment Were “Getting An Increased Amount [Of Funding] Each Year Per Student.” “So it’s my job to find the money and not compromise education. I didn’t talk about, Stephen, I didn’t talk about cutting anything out of education but we need to make sure that education is funded. We also have fair funding issues. We have the hold harmless issue with school districts that receive ‘X’ dollars per year and their enrollment is going down, but because of the hold harmless clause they continue to receive that money. So actually they’re getting an increased amount each year per student. So this is a very complex issue.” [Excellent Schools PA Tele Town Hall, 00:49:50, 5/12/18]

CONTACT: Beth Melena, beth@wolfforpa.com

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