Rep. Adolph disappointed by decision to cancel vote to fund Philadelphia schools

House Republican leaders cancelled a vote on a Philadelphia cigarette tax that would provide critical funding to the School District of Philadelphia, citing a lack of consensus on the proposal.

A special summer session had been slated for Monday to consider the proposal, which would have placed a $2 tax on all cigarette packs sold in Philadelphia. The tax was expected to raise as much as $45 million in revenue for the beleaguered district, which has a $93 million budget gap.

Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said earlier this month that the district would have to lay off employees or consider delaying the start of the school year.

State Rep. Bill Adolph, R-165, of Springfield, issued a statement Thursday afternoon criticizing the decision to cancel the special session. Adolph serves as the majority chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

Here is Adolph’s statement in full:

“I am extremely disappointed the House will not be returning to complete the unfinished business that is necessary to give the Philadelphia School District the resources they need to educate more than 200,000 students in the Commonwealth’s largest school district.

“Ensuring our state’s largest school district opens on time is something for which we should all accept some responsibility. I am very frustrated that we could not reach agreement on the language that was added by the Senate. It is my opinion that since there was no agreement on the issues added to HB1177, the funding of Philadelphia schools should have remained an isolated issue and voted on its own merits.

“The will of the House in regard to the enabling legislation for the School District of Philadelphia was expressed in the initial passage of House Bill 1177 on July 2. I believe there are other avenues that can be used to advance the extraneous issues added to House Bill 1177.

“Along with several other legislative leaders, I have worked tirelessly over the past several weeks to find consensus and build support in the Legislature for this proposal. Unfortunately, we have not been able to reach that consensus in time to consider the legislation for the scheduled session days on August 4th, 5th and 6th.

“I remain optimistic a solution can still be reached. However, time is of the essence and I will continue to work so that the schools will be able to open their doors on time.”

 

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