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Obama Knocks Corbett’s “Brutal” Education Cuts

Obama Biden Scranton
Obama and Biden in Scranton. Photo: Jake Williams

Scranton — President Barack Obama took aim at states, like Pennsylvania, that have cut support from education during a speech on college affordability at Lackawanna College.

As he concluded his two-day New York/PA bus tour to promote his college affordability plan, Obama was joined by Vice President and Scranton native Joe Biden.

The President lambasted recent cuts to state education funding.

“Incomes are flat, and the state actually reduces its support for higher education,” Obama said, referring to budgets supported by Republicans including Gov. Tom Corbett. “Here in Pennsylvania, there have been brutal cuts to, not just higher education, but to education in general.”

“That means that state legislatures cannot just keep cutting support for public colleges and universities,” he continued.

Obama Scranton
The President took a swipe at Gov. Corbett. Photo: Jake Williams

Pa. Democrats have continuously blasted Corbett over funding cuts for basic and higher education.

Corbett proposed reducing state funding for state-owned and -related colleges by 50% in the 2011-2012 budget; he signed into law a budget that cut 18%. He proposed a 20% to 30% cut for 2012-2013, and proposed flat-funding them in 2013-2014. Ultimately cuts amounting to about 18% were enacted in 2011 and higher education has been flat-funded since.

Basic K-12 education is more debatable. Democrats accuse Corbett and Republicans of reducing ed funding by $1 billion, but they include in that sum federal stimulus dollars that expired when the Governor’s term began.

“If the President is looking for someone to blame for education cuts he should grab a mirror. It’s his one-time funds from the failed stimulus package that artificially increased the education budget to unsustainable levels,” said Corbett campaign manager Mike Barley. “Despite this legislative malpractice, Governor Corbett has devoted more state funding to education than any time in our Commonwealth’s history.”

Although he won Pa. by 5% in 2012, Obama’s jab could have the effect of boosting Corbett. The President’s numbers have been sagging nationally, and many observers expect the so-called 6-year itch to boost Republicans in 2014. That’s particularly true if the economic recovery continues to lag in places like northeastern Pa. – where unemployment has held at over 9%.

“The President’s comments make it clear that he has no meaningful plans for education reform,” Barley continued. “His plan remains the same as it always has – raise taxes on the middle class and spend more money. These are the same tired policies from a President who doesn’t have to balance a budget and continues to simply pass the buck.”

However, if Obama is a political liability it has yet to show in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. Corbett’s opponents have all been vocal in their support for the President. Likewise, Democratic officials including Sen. Bob Casey, Attorney General Kathleen Kane and Congressman Matt Cartwright each greeted the President openly on Friday.

While Obama charged state legislatures and Congress to act, he also said that the work cannot be done solely by government.

“It means colleges have to work harder to prevent tuition from going up year after year,” Obama said. “Our economy cannot afford the trillion dollars in outstanding student loan debt. We can’t outprice the middle class.”

Obama emphasized the three main goals he laid out in Binghamton Thursday in response to the rising student debt.

The plan involves tying financial aid to a university’s performance through a new Department of Education-created rating system, promoting competition between universities to offer the most cost-effective options and ensuring that student debt is affordable by allowing borrowers to cap their payments at 10 percent of their income.

“Colleges that keep their tuition down, while providing high quality education, we want to see their taxpayer support go up,” Obama said.

At the beginning of his speech, Obama praised Lackawanna College for its efforts to provide a high-quality education at a low price.

Biden, during his remarks introducing Obama, said cities like Scranton and colleges like Lackawanna College are a place of opportunity for the middle class.

“I’d like to introduce you, Mr. President, to the community that informed everything I believe. My absolute conviction is that if you give ordinary folks a fighting chance, they can do extraordinary things,” Biden said. “My absolute conviction is that the middle class is what makes this country great, what built this country and what binds it today.”

“The middle class isn’t a number, it’s about understanding in your bones,” Biden said. “The middle class is not a value set, it’s about being able to own your home, and not just rent it, it’s about being in a safe neighborhood where you can walk the streets, it’s about the dignity of a job that allows you to support your family.”

It’s Obama’s first visit to Pa. since November, when he pushed his plan to avoid to fiscal cliff in Montgomery County in southeastern Pa.

Keegan Gibson contributed to this report.

10 Responses

  1. Hey Obama, do you support the PSD administators retiring, collecting their pension, then being rehired as consultants and coordinators, double dipping the education system? Do you support former Superintendent Ackerman, who got over $1 million after being fired from PSD? These are the kinds of things these “brutal cuts” are aimed at getting rid of. Philly should reform these crazy expenses or go to all charter schools. As a PA taxpayer, NOT ONE MORE DIME to PSD until they make reforms to the people abusing the system and failing the children. Kudos Corbettt, stand firm. Obama, typical partisan, non factual criticism.

    Corbett 2014

    -Under 30, former Obama voter.

  2. Corbett’ s attack on public education is brutal. Children are our future. By squeezing the life out of educating our children so he can give more tax breaks to the rich and his friends in the gas companies is criminal.. By the way has anyone looked at what the Pennsylvania State Constitution says the state’s share of Public Education should be? IT IS FIFTY PERCENT. Governor Rendell had it to forty two percent. Under Corbett it is THIRTY TWO PERCENT. How any parent or grandparent could support this Governor is beyond my comprehension. Because of the lack of State Funding local school taxes are going up. Don’t blame local School Boards blame Corbett directly for these raises in local taxes. If ever there was a governor who deserves to be voted out Corbett is it. When you take away. fundamental necessities as education and medical care for children you do not deserve to be considered to be a Governor of Pennsylvania.

  3. After 12 years, I received a lay-off from a HBCU, um. Let me see if I understand the dilemma; with more and more people (within the education system) believing that they will have their jobs tomorrow; when do you think unemployment compensation will collapse?
    This state is in the same hole as others!
    Governor Corbett please stop blaming President Obama. I’d like to see Governor Corbett explain who exactly gave out those first stimulus checks many moons ago and who put us in this hidden gem called job loss?
    You’re first plan of business was to eliminate education (K-12/Secondary Education) and build more prisons’; Right? You figure since lower class school districts are failing why not help them out, hence, these children are failures and they will never get anything passed a GED; Right?
    But the whole state knows you haven’t missed one meal since you become Governor; Right? Oh sure, you can remember what it’s like to see people without; Right? I’m sure you never had to go without one day in your life; Right?
    As a single mother, I’ve had some help from our state funding; however, I’ve worked two jobs just to maintain what I earned. I starting working for this HBCU 2001 I stopped working two jobs because that pay was the best supplement. Now fast forward, had an opportunity to get a Bachelor of Art, to which I have 98 credits to go. The college goes one step further and decides to cut my hours and my pay by 20%; this was just in the last few years of Governor Corbett’s entrance in office; um.What an unfortunate blow, an economic down shift and to those of us still trying to pay our bills and maintain some source of income we should be commented.
    Can we remember how these things happened? Simple it started with K-12 then higher education.
    This country is always pointing fingers but is that helping the problem; NO!
    We, all as taxpayers, play a role in how our children are educated and how to increase safety throughout our community. Now, personally, I cannot do this alone and neither can Governor Corbett or President Obama.
    Let’s stop pointing fingers Pennsylvanians.

  4. Ironically the town claims both Joe Biden and Bob Casey and which has been run by Democrats is gong bankrupt. Many Democrats, like Bob Casey, are very nice people and very well intentioned but cannot be trusted with money. Obviously.

    City Workers pay slashed (2012 July)

    Parking Authority in Receivership

  5. PaIndependent’s Two Charts Tell the Story. Pennsylvania Taxpayers are paying more for Unionized Bureaucratic Government K-12 Monopoly.

    For the inevitable union claim that Gov. Corbett has cut school spending, please read more Pa Independent 3 June 2013 Eric Boehm. WATCHBLOG: The debate over basic education funding in two simple charts /

    Tom Corbett made reasonable concessions (for which he has only gotten abuse from Democrats) by agreeing to give $45 million of state taxpayer money to save Philadelphia from its own incompetence; the PFT remains intransigent.

    Liberal Philadelphia Democrat Tom Ferrick asks “Where’s Jerry?” of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. They are not blinking.

    Even the Unionized and Democratically Owned Inquirer think the teachers union needs to step and do its fair share to solve the problem.

    Why should taxpayers all over Pennsylvania be forced to fund Philadelphia’s mistakes and incompetence? Philadelphians caused the problem; Philadelphians need to solve the problem. Taxpayers in other districts and other municipalities have their own problems to solve and fund along with all the other problems of a slow growing economy.

  6. When you look at the time-line of the case, it does make you wonder, whether it was politically inconvenient to launch a case against this charter school profiteer? Was Corbett Justice asleep at the switch or was Acting Governor Brabender whispering words of wisdon to the MAN about his political future? Maybe we will know when the papers are released in the Corbett Library?

  7. The Brabender Adminstration’s front man, Tom Corbett has always had a weakness for Charter schools profiteers. Just ask Nick Trombetta of PA Cyber Schools! Again, I ask the question what does our Acting Governor John Brabender of Brabender Cox and rumored to be behind the Highmark attack ads, actually care about education in PA-he is living in the richest county in America in Loudon County Virginia. He is not fighting the fight with suffering Pennsylvanians like you and me. Do you think Acting Governor Brabender played a role in meting out JUSTICE IN PA? I would love for some enterprising journalist to do a fly-over of Mr. Brabender’s estate in Virginia Horse Country. My God, our Dark Prince won’t even rent a room in the Governor’s mansion. Has the PA Fourth Estate been given knock-out gas?

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