Education cuts and reductions of state funds were topics of discussion during a Fresh Start news conference Friday at the Allen Street Gates in State College.
Fresh Start Chairwoman Kathleen McGinty; state Rep. Mike Hanna, D-Lock Haven; Centre County Commissioner Michael Pipe; State College Mayor Elizabeth Goreham; and members of the Penn State College Democrats assembled to speak their grievances of the governor’s policies and decisions.
McGinty, former candidate for the Democratic nomination for Pennsylvania governor, called out Gov. Tom Corbett on his funding cuts to institutions such as Penn State and the effects on economic growth within a community.
“When you have an anchor and wonderful institution like Penn State and you attempt overnight to cut the funding to that institution by 50 percent,” she said, “a lot of things come from that.”
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First, she said, it cuts the academic offerings of the school. Second, the debt created by those cuts becomes a burden to the students and their families.
“Tom Wolf will turn that around,” she said.
“During his first year, (Corbett) wanted to slash the Penn State budget by 50 percent,” Hanna said. “The legislature ratcheted that back to only 19 percent.”
A 19 percent cut was still unprecedented in his 24 years in the General Assembly, he said.
Pipe said he was frustrated with the administration’s priorities, such as placing liquor and lottery privatization over 911 funding.
Fees to update Centre County’s 911 software and equipment will come out of property taxes due to reduced funding, he said.
But the Corbett camp defended the governor’s support of higher education.
“Secretary Tom Wolf continues to lie about Gov. Tom Corbett’s historic record investment into state education funding to distract from the fact that Wolf does not have a specific plan of his own to lead our state,” Corbett campaign spokesman Chris Pack said in an email.
“By Secretary Tom Wolf’s own admission,” Pack said, “he wants to raise taxes on middle-class Pennsylvania families and businesses to make up for the increased spending that will result under his plan to appease the Harrisburg special interest groups who have already pumped millions of dollars in Wolf’s campaign coffers.”
Fresh Start is a “political action committee that is devoted to supporting candidates who support the values and principles that we share,” McGinty said.