As you know, Fight for Philly has been out on the streets for months and months to demand more money for woefully-underfunded Philly schools. Gov. Tom Corbett has slashed education since he took office, cutting $1 billion from education across the state and $272 from Philadelphia schools, which have been hit harder than any other district. This year, schools opened with too few counselors, nurses, teachers, and supplies. And the governor seems determined to sign another budget that makes things even worse.
Last month, we staged a massive protest against the governor in Philly, letting him know how angry the whole city is about his brutal cuts to our schools. It was time to bring our protest even closer to home as the Capitol debated next year's budget.
We staged a week long sit-in in the Capitol Building, singing, chanting, holding signs for a fair budget, rallying, and protesting. We set up camp at the Capitol building to demand the governor fund Philly schools, tax shale drilling, freeze business tax cuts, and expand Medicaid for needy PA Families. Standing in front of the governor's office, we announced our plan to stay at the Capitol every day until the governor signed a budget that restores funds for education and human services by making businesses and the gas industry pay their fair share.
A reasonable severance tax on fracking would bring an estimated $700 million in revenue or more to the state. Business tax cuts have cost the state billions of dollars in recent years and help to cause this budget crisis. Medicaid expansion would add $620 million to Pennsylvania’s 2015 budget and add about $3 billion annually to its economy. It would support 35,000 new jobs by 2016 and 40,000 jobs by 2022.
- Despite the sit-in, including day-long protests outside the governor’s office, rallies, a protest at the Governor’s Residence, a tent on the Capitol steps, phone banking, and online campaigns, the governor refused to acknowledge the parents, teachers, and students from across the state demanding full funding for education. The governor never presented a budget that reversed his $1 billion in statewide educations cuts.
- We put up a strong fight. We made sure our voices were heard and our presence was known. And we're sure the governor will hear from folks all across the state after supporting another budget that doesn't deliver on the state's constitutional promise to deliver “thorough and efficient” schools: this will be the governor's LAST budget for PA.
Check out these awesome pictures and tweets from our week long sit-in!
- We started the sit-in with a press conference to announce our plan to stay at the Capitol building until the governor committed to a fair budget.
- Then we marched to the governor's office to begin the sit-in.
- The next day, we protested at the PA Department of Education office to demand a fair funding formula for our schools and an end to unchecked charter growth siphoning money from public education.
- Students making their message clear to Governor Corbett.
- Taxing frackers = funding for schools
- Students dancing for full and fair funding for Philly schools!
- On Sunday, we went right to the governor's mansion to demand he pay attention to the people that matter. We brought coffee to tell him to WAKE UP to the pain he is causing all across the state.
- Wake up and smell the coffee!
- Outside of the PA Chamber of Commerce demanding Comcast and other huge corporations pay their fair share!
- Retired teacher Diane Payne outside the PA Chamber of Commerce.
- Our friends from Pittsburgh traveled 5 hours to show their support for the sit-in.