Steve has fought to protect funding for public education. In his first term, he voted for two budgets that increased funding for basic and higher education while at the same reduced overall spending. As a result, education funding increased without the need for an increase in either the state income or sales taxes.
In his second term, Steve has been a consistent opponent of Governor Corbett's cuts to basic and higher education. Despite Steve's efforts, the Republican-controlled legislature cut over $1 billion in basic education funding (i.e., K-12) and over $300 million in higher education funding (i.e., for our state universities and our state related universities, Pitt, Penn State, Temple and Lincoln) in FY 2011-2012. Not surprisingly, this misguided policy resulted in increased property taxes, the elimination of programs and a rise in tuition throughout Pennsylvania.
Now Governor Corbett and the Republicans are again proposing cuts to basic and higher education. Once again, Steve is helping to lead the fight to stop these cuts because he knows that our children are our future.
The Back to Educating Our Kids Act
Steve's opponents in this year's race for State Representative have attacked him over the issue of teacher strikes.
What they don't tell you is that Steve has written a bill that would not only make teacher strikes a thing of the past, but would result in fair and fast settlements of teacher contract disputes so that our schools can go back to doing what they do best: educating our kids.
He calls it The Back to Educating Our Kids Act.
Under his legislation, teachers and school districts would be required to start negotiating earlier than is currently required. The process would be divided into four phases: negotiation; fact finding; mediation; and arbitration. In each phase, The Back to Educating Our Kids Act would require that the two sides meet regularly.
If they get to the arbitration stage without settling, an arbitration decision would be rendered.
If, within 10 days of the arbitration panel's decision, the teachers don't accept that decision without otherwise reaching a settlement, they would lose the right to strike.
If, within 10 days of the arbitration panel's decision, the school board does not accept that decision without otherwise reaching a settlement, its state funding would be escrowed by the PA Treasurer only to be released upon a settlement being reached.
The Act also prohibits strikes and lockouts from the beginning of the negotiation process through the 10-day, post-arbitration decision period.
This approach is better than simply outlawing strikes without addressing the contract issue, because it will guarantee a quick and fair resolution to teacher contract disputes, something merely outlawing strikes does not do (remember, Neshaminy operated without a contract for nearly four years before striking). Moreover, The Back to Educating Our Kids Act does not take sides. It puts maximum pressure on both sides to settle or accept the arbitration ruling.
It's time to cut through the rhetoric on this issue and do what is right for our kids' education and taxpayers. The Back to Educating Our Kids Act is the answer.