Contact Information 

District Offices
Tiadaghton Valley Mall
Room 105
701 Allegheny Street, Box 4
Jersey Shore, PA 17740
(570) 398-4476

Closed for lunch: 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Tuesdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Thursdays 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Closed Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Penn Hills Plaza, Halls Station
21 Kristi Road
Suite 1
Muncy, PA 17756
(570) 546-2084

Closed for lunch: 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Monday through Friday: 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Capitol Office
Hon. Garth Everett
401 Irvis Office Building
PO Box 202084
Harrisburg PA 17120-2084
(717) 787-5270
Fax: (717) 772-9958

E-Mail:  
geverett@pahousegop.com

On The Issue of Education Spending in Pennsylvania
5/5/2015
By Rep. Garth Everett (R-Lycoming/Union)
84th Legislative District


During last year’s campaign for governor, we heard much debate and publicity about spending on education in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Now, in his budget proposal, Gov. Tom Wolf is proposing significant increases in taxes for spending on education. To frame this discussion, I think it is helpful to understand how much “we” currently spend on education in Pennsylvania, where those funds come from and where we rank nationally in education spending.

First, when we use the term “education funding/spending,” we are referring to the public spending in Pennsylvania on pre-kindergarten (PreK), kindergarten (K) and grades 1-12. Overall, as best as our House Education and Appropriations committee staff can estimate, $27.4 billion of public funding is being spent in the current budget year in Pennsylvania on PreK-12 education. Of that $27.4 billion, $10.5 billion (38 percent) comes from the General Fund of the Commonwealth, $1.0 billion (4 percent) comes from the federal government, and $15.9 billion (58 percent) comes from local sources, the majority of which is from local school property taxes.

Let me qualify a few things from the preceding paragraph. First, the $10.5 billion of state spending is a real number from the General Fund budget. The local and federal contributions are projections based on historical averages and the overall $27.4 billion is based on the best information available from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Also to be kept in mind is that the contribution ratio of the state and local school districts is a state average – not the actual ratio received by each school district in the state. The amount that each individual district receives is the result of a complex formula that I hope to address in a subsequent column.

OK, where does spending $27.4 billion on PreK-12 education rank Pennsylvania nationally and what does it “buy” us? Well, it places us sixth in the nation for overall spending, sixth in the nation for the number of teachers in K-12 public schools, 10th in the nation in average salary of public school teachers at $62,994 (national average is $56,103), 12th in spending per student at $15,000 as compared to national average of $11,308 per student and gives us a pupil to teacher ratio of 14.31, while the average national ratio is 16.01.

I would add at this point that statistics and studies show there is not necessarily a correlation between higher per student spending and higher student performance when measured by standardized test scores. We are fortunate in our area to have a number of shining examples of school districts that spend significantly less per student than the state average and consistently achieve results on standardized tests significantly above the state average. Across the state, we also have a number of districts that continue to spend far more per student than the average and continue to achieve no measureable improvement in academic performance.

When listening to some on the subject of education spending, one could be led to believe that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is “behind” on how much we spend on PreK-12 education and that “we” need to raise taxes and allocate more of our General Fund budget to education. Whether we should spend more is a policy decision that will be intensely debated during our budget process this month and next but the contention that we are currently “behind” other states with respect to spending on education is just not the truth.

In the coming weeks and months, I hope to address other issues being debated in Harrisburg as we move through the budget and legislative process. These issues include, but are not limited to, school property tax reduction, the proper ratio of local and state taxation and spending to support education, the looming public pension funding “crisis,” the proposed severance tax, regulation of the gas industry and royalty issues related to the gas industry. To make comments to me directly on the issues raised in this column today, on the issues I plan to address or any other state issue, please feel free to email me at geverett@pahousegop.com.
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