PA-BGT: Will Harrisburg Sit By As Erie Shutters Schools?

pa-state-capitol-b175d9a07740ecf3Students in Erie may be getting a lot of snow days this fall.

After 80 days of infighting and inaction in Harrisburg, the state’s budget impasse is poised to take its first high-profile victim in the port city, with the district superintendent is considering closing down the school system until state funds return.

Jay Badams, superintendent for over 12,000 students, said he is running out of options to stave off a temporary shutdown of the entire district – one of PA’s biggest – according to an Associated Press report.

“There is no good answer. The only good answer is to release our funds,” Badams told Marc Levy of AP. “We can fund our prisons, but we can’t fund our schools. What does that say about our state’s priorities? I’m angry.”

A tax payment will allow the district to meet payroll until October 2, giving Erie and state lawmakers an extra two weeks to find a solution, ErieTVNews reports. The district may file a lawsuit against the state in order to release their funding.

“This is breaking new legal ground. This has never happened before to our knowledge in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” Erie School District Solicitor Tim Wachter said. “We are looking to see exactly what rights the school district has in demanding payment from the Commonwealth.”

The effects of the state’s 12-week budget standoff are starting to set in with nonprofit and social service organizations across the state looking at ways to reduce operating costs until money starts to flow from Harrisburg.

Many are desperate for funds – having taken out loans, reduced services and stopped paying employees to make ends meet – while lawmakers in the capital continue to haggle over pensions, liquor privatization and education spending, as well as Gov. Tom Wolf’s insistence on new taxes to increase state revenues.

Wolf is ready to veto a stopgap budget, which passed the State Senate on Friday, in an effort to keep negotiations and attentions focused on the state’s fiscal plans.

2 Responses

  1. The legislators, including Tom Wolf, need to do their jobs. The situation in Pennsylvania is disgraceful; Schools and non-profits used as political chattle while state employees and STATE STORES!!! get paid. Shame, shame on them. At this point, there is no argument that either side can lodge. Get to work.

  2. Where are all the banks that got bailouts from the federal govt under TARP and similar programs? These banks should be lending the schools funds to keep the doors open and the schools functioning.

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