Philadelphia – May 30th, 2014 – State Senator Vincent Hughes released the following statement in response to the announcement that the School Reform Commission (SRC) will not approve a budget that does not include new revenue to restore vital programs in Philadelphia’s classrooms:

“Last night, the Philadelphia School Reform Commission took a courageous stand by refusing to pass a budget that would be harmful to our students. We simply cannot pretend that our schools are adequately staffed and that further cuts wouldn’t be potentially unsafe for our children. This action by the SRC sends a clear message to state lawmakers and the Governor that Philadelphia schools need additional revenue.

“That is why I have proposed a 5 percent tax on the extraction of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale. My bill would generate $375 million for public schools statewide in the first year and grow exponentially over the next decade. There is clearly a need for additional funding and taxing drilling in the Marcellus Shale is the best option for finding those dollars. It is also important to note that there is a growing bipartisan consensus that taxing shale is the best way to generate new funding for public education.

“Beyond my proposal, the Senate Democratic Caucus also supports an additional $300 million in funding for public education. We have suggested a number of ways to pay for this increase, including savings from Medicaid expansion, freezing corporate tax cuts, and modernizing our state liquor store system. This plan is supported by every member of the Senate Democratic Caucus and does not include any broad-based tax increases.

“The decision by the SRC to refuse to approve a budget without additional revenue is a strong message that cannot be ignored. It is time to restore the devastating cuts in state funding to public education that have occurred over the past three years. I hope that the Governor and my colleagues in the General Assembly will respond appropriately and pass measures to increase funding for public schools.”

Senator Vincent Hughes represents the 7th Senatorial District, which includes parts of Philadelphia and Montgomery County. He is also Democratic Chairman of PA Senate Appropriations Committee.