UPPER DARBY – Gov. Tom Wolf paid a visit to Upper Darby High School Friday to urge the state to invest in education spending and he used his business experience to tout that investment.
“There is this myth out there that the way you succeed in business is to cut, cut if you had to, that’s not the way to do it,” Wolf said to the 50 or so officials, press and students assembled. “The key to business success is you invest strategically in the things that really make a difference.”
Wolf said that is what made him successful as a business owner and as a governor through investment in education.
Wolf said there is a relationship between education investing at the state level and business development and revenue. He said that at the start of his administration the state had a $2-3 billion structural deficit including a rainy day fund of less than $250,000. He said the state now has an improved financial condition as well as a rainy day fund of over $2.8 billion. Wolf said these improvements happened not despite state investment in education but because of his administration’s additional $1.9 billion increase on education funding including a new fair funding formula.
“This is a shared responsibility we have in education and I think the state is finally starting to recognize that,” Wolf said.
Wolf said if a child in Upper Darby doesn’t get a good education his life as a resident in York is diminished as that child’s potential also takes away from the State’s potential.
“Investing in education is at the heart of our financial comeback, it is what has made Pennsylvania strong again,” Wolf said. “We need to keep doing this.”
Wolf said in his new budget he is proposing over $1.3 billion in funding, for basic education and fair funding as well as $300 million for a plan called level up which would get rapid funding to the 100 most neediest schools in the commonwealth.
Wolf said under his proposal Upper Darby School District would see $18.7 million dollars in additional money.
Wolf said the state can afford to do it and it would not require tax increases.
“If we want to be strong financially, if we want a strong commonwealth we’ve got to invest in public education,” Wolf said. He added that there needs to be equity in the school system.
Wolf was joined other elected Democratic officials including U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, D-5 of Swarthmore, state Sens. Tim Kearney and Vincent Hughes, and state Reps. Mike Zabel and Gina Curry, who each spoke in support of additional state funding in districts like Upper Darby that are underfunded.
Asked how he would get the support of the Legislature, Wolf said by making the point that districts all across the state will get more money without raising taxes.
He said he has some Republican support for the plan though he is not certain if it is enough.
Asked about the lawsuit which originated in the neighboring William Penn School District, Wolf chuckled he is technically a defendant in the lawsuit and he ran for office because he thought the state continues to underfund public education.
Following the speeches Wolf briefly met with students, teachers and administrators and posed for photos.
Among the students were junior Tanveer Kaur and senior Timothy Tran, who asked the governor if he agrees that legislators should put equity over equality in how they fund public education and what would you say to those who are opposing the plan?
“He said ‘I do think, we should put more equity than equality. He also said that he will try to garner support from both parties to make this happen,” Tran said.