On Monday, I joined Governor Ed Rendell and representatives from the Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign for a rally on the steps of the State Capitol Building rotunda. At the Parents’ Rally for Education, parents and students alike spoke of the importance of maintaining adequate funding levels for school districts throughout the state of Pennsylvania.
Following statements from citizens throughout the Commonwealth, I discussed how several important federal policies impact the state budget. The Keep Our Educators Working Act, which I am cosponsoring, is as straightforward as it gets when it comes to education: by creating a fund to provide education aid to the states, it would save between 12,000 and 15,000 teaching jobs throughout Pennsylvania. Equally important, however, are extensions for FMAP funding for Medicare, unemployment insurance, and COBRA. Extended FMAP funding is necessary to ensure that the state of Pennsylvania does not suffer a large budget gap, which could result in cuts in education. Unemployment and COBRA extensions are needed not only to protect vulnerable Pennsylvanian families, but also to prevent economic recovery from being stifled, which could hurt the state’s ability to collect the revenue it needs for education and other programs. Without this funding, Pennsylvania could experience 20,000 layoffs and a threat can be posed to public safety and schools. Extending this funding has majority support in the Senate. And it has bipartisan support outside of Washington with 42 governors having signed a letter urging Congress to extend this funding, including 26 Democrats and 16 Republicans.
The message of the Parents’ Rally for Education is an important one that I will carry with me to Washington DC. I will advocate tirelessly for the passage of the Keep Our Educators Working Act, and for extensions for FMAP funding, unemployment, and COBRA. These programs are important to the citizens of the Commonwealth and vital for assisting state budgets and ensuring economic recovery.