State Senate passes bill to fund Philly schools
The state Senate this afternoon passed HB 1177, which will provide additional funding for the School District of Philadelphia by implementing a $2 tax on cigarette sales in Philadelphia.
The bill passed by a 39-11 vote. The vote came just a day after the state House approved the bill by a 114-84 vote.
School district officials have called the legislation essential to preventing further layoffs within the district. The bill is expected to provide the funding necessary to make up an $80 million shortfall in the district’s operating budget.
Passage of the bill followed a months-long delay.
Gov. Tom Corbett, who is running for re-election against Democrat Tom Wolf, hailed its passage as a success.
“I am pleased that both chambers have taken action on this legislation so that the Philadelphia School District, and more importantly, the students of Philadelphia, can benefit from it,” Corbett said in a statement released by his press office. “I intend to sign the (bill) into law as soon as it reaches my desk so that the Philadelphia School District has the ability to ensure students have access to a safe and secure learning environment for the remainder of the school year.”
State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, D-8, of Philadelphia, said the funding is not enough and called for a greater fix to the city’s funding struggles.
“While this is a significant revenue stream for Philly schools, it is also the epitome of what is wrong with Pennsylvania. We are depending on cigarette smokers to close the financial hole that exists in the city,” Williams said in a statement. “This commonwealth needs to do much more to reverse course and re-dedicate itself to the mission of public education. We need a modern funding formula that fairly distributes the precious billions in revenue that we now pay to deliver a first-class education.”