One of the things Alicia Witherite said she wants most for her 2-year-old son is to have a good education.
But at the rate the state budget situation is going in Harrisburg, she said, she’s not sure it will happen.
“My dream is to see my son graduate from Penn State, but with the way you have been treating school funding, he won’t have that opportunity,” the Bellefonte resident said during a protest Thursday afternoon at Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman’s office. “I’m not sure how bad the school system will be if your education cuts continue.”
The Benner Township Republican wasn’t present for the march, but about a dozen community members who were part of a group called Good Jobs, Healthy Communities rallied at Corman’s office and around the parking lot to raise awareness about the delay in state budget approval.
Corman was unavailable for comment on Thursday, but spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher said that Corman, as one of the chief negotiators, has been meeting with the governor each week to negotiate budget plans.
In a press release, the group single-handedly blamed Corman for “prolonging the budget standoff.”
“We’re here to give a message — school starts in less than a month and we need to restore four years of funding cuts,” said organization member and spokesman Greg Overturf, of Bellefonte.
Gov. Tom Wolf wants to increase funding for education by $2 billion in four years — from pre-K programs to college — through a natural gas severance tax and an additional fee of 4.7 cents per thousand feet of volume on natural gas extraction.
The deadline to pass the budget was June 30. And while a budget was passed by the Senate, Wolf vetoed it, Kocher said.
“We have yet to hear anything concrete from the governor’s office,” she said. “Education is always a focus. … We want to leave money in taxpayers’ pockets while still funding districts.”
Kocher said under the governor’s budget, taxpayers — in the State College Area School District, for instance — will pay about $28 million more in taxes than they would see in property tax relief.
Overturf said the group will continue to “hound” Corman and other local leaders.
“We just want what’s best,” Overturf said. “We need to get school funding.”