House won't vote on cigarette tax to help Philly schools

YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER SRC Chairman Bill Green sits in front of Superintendent William Hite at Monday's school district budget meeting.
YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER SRC Chairman Bill Green sits in front of Superintendent William Hite at Monday's school district budget meeting.
Posted: July 03, 2014

ONCE AGAIN, Philadelphia's hopes for increased school funding from Harrisburg appear to be on hold.

A spokesman for House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, an Allegheny County Republican, said yesterday that there were no plans to vote on a bill passed by the Senate that includes the Philadelphia cigarette tax, which would generate much-needed revenue for the school district.

The omnibus bill was approved in the Senate early yesterday, 38-12.

The district is hoping for more money from state lawmakers. The School Reform Commission passed a $2.6 billion budget on Monday, which leaves a placeholder for $93 million from the state's coffers.

The cigarette tax, which would tack on an extra $2 per pack, would be expected to generate at least $45 million for the district in the first year.

Without additional revenue, the gap will have to be closed with cuts. Possible cuts include laying off hundreds of teachers, putting as many as 41 students in a classroom, reducing school police, slashing building maintenance and making cuts to transportation that would require high school students to walk an extra half-mile.

Two other options - shortening the school year or delaying the start of school - are also being considered, according to Superintendent William Hite.


On Twitter: @ChroniclesofSol

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