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EXCLUSIVE: Governor Corbett Speaks Out About Philadelphia School Budget Crisis

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By Jenn Bernstein

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It’s not a pretty picture for Philadelphia’s schools next year, according to the budget passed by the School Reform Commission on Thursday.

There is one thing that can change it – according to School District Superintendent Dr. William Hite – help from the city, state, and teachers’ union.

Eyewitness News spoke with Governor Tom Corbett after he attended a scheduled event in Montgomeryville, Montgomery County.

The Governor said there are discussions about the Superintendent’s request for $120 million dollars from the state, to help fill a $304 million dollar budget shortfall.

“Where do you get the money?  Without tax increases on the people of Pennsylvania?” said Governor Corbett.

We asked him if he thought there was support for it.

Governor Corbett said, “There’s a lot of discussions ahead, I’m not going to speculate one way or another right now.”

“You have to be concerned of where you can find the money that is sustainable, that will continue to come in every year,” said Pennsylvania’s Governor.

Thursday night, the School Reform Commission passed a bare-bones budget, that many say comes with catastrophic effects on the quality of education.

That’s after hundreds rallied outside of School District Headquarters, protesting the drastic cuts which would slash programs like art, music, and sports.

In some cases, there would be job eliminations.

Hite says a budget was passed because the city’s charter mandates one be in place by May 31st.

“We know that it is insufficient to provide for the educational needs of the children in Philadelphia,” said Hite.

The school district budget does not contain any of the money the Superintendent requested, which includes $60 million from the city, $120 million from the state, and more than $100 million in givebacks from the teachers’ union.

Hite says if the district receives the additional funding, there is a solution to its problems.

“We have a five year plan,” said Hite, “that actually gets the district to balance within the next several years.”

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