State Rep. Adam Ravenstahl said the budget proposed in March by Gov. Tom Corbett would result in higher property taxes and skyrocketing tuition bills for Allegheny County residents and could hurt the economy of the Pittsburgh area.
The proposed budget would cut funding to the Pittsburgh School District by $34.1 million, including an $18.85 million reduction in basic education. It also would eliminate a $2.5 million grant the district uses to fund an after-school program for children struggling with reading and math, a $5.4 million grant for early childhood education and a $9.3 million reimbursement to offset losses to charter schools.
The Shaler School District stands to lose $927,000 and the North Hills School District will lose $463,000 in basic education funding.
"Our local school districts will have no choice but to raise property taxes, increase class sizes and cut early childhood education programs that have been proven to prepare our children, particularly our at-risk children, for success in school," Ravenstahl said. "The education budget should be an investment in our future."
Ravenstahl said he also was troubled by the governor’s plan to slash higher education funding for state-related universities, including the University of Pittsburgh.
The budget would cut Pitt’s general appropriation in half from $160 million to $80 million and eliminate a $17 million appropriation that supports university programs in health sciences, including the School of Medicine, Dental Clinic and Center for Public Health Practice. Pitt also stands to lose $9 million a year from the tobacco settlement fund, which it uses for biomedical research support
"The reduction in Pitt’s general appropriation will lead to higher tuition bills, and I’m worried it will put a degree out of reach for children from working-class families," Ravenstahl said.
"How does this help our state’s efforts to compete in the world economy? How does this convince our best and brightest to stay here in Pennsylvania to go to school, or to stay here and contribute once they graduate?"
Ravenstahl added that the university is an important part of the region’s economy through direct employment and spin-off jobs created by businesses that rely on the university. He said the budget cuts could hurt the university’s role in the regional economy, which has become more important during the economic slowdown.
Ravenstahl also said cuts Corbett proposed to health care, including $113 million to hospitals, would be shifted to the hospitals and insurance ratepayers.
"This budget should not be balanced on the backs of hardworking Pennsylvanians," Ravenstahl said.
The 20th Legislative District includes the Northside, Lawrenceville, Polish Hill, Strip District and Stanton Heights neighborhoods in Pittsburgh, as well as West View borough and parts of Reserve and Ross townships.
Rep. Adam Ravenstahl’s constituent office is at 3689 California Ave., Pittsburgh. It is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday. Ravenstahl also invites residents to visit his website — www.pahouse.com/Ravenstahl — which has links to information on state services and includes a "Contact Me" form that allows constituents to e-mail him.