By Syma Chowdhry
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The future of Philadelphia schools is getting tangled in state politics.
The mayor says Governor Corbett is using Philadelphia children as pawns to get other state issues approved.
But the question remains, will Philadelphia schools get adequate funding?
As the School Reform Commission meets for the last time this school year, the future lies in the hands of lawmakers in Harrisburg, who have until midnight to decide that fate, as the state Senate votes on a $29.1 billion budget.
Mayor Nutter says, “It is unfair to the children, it is unfair to the parents, it is unfair to the teachers.”
Nutter says the school’s future is being played in a game of “Let’s Make a Deal.”
Because there aren’t enough Republican votes for a pension reform measure, supported by Governor Corbett, he and other Republican leaders are trying to entice Philadelphia Democrats on their side.
They’re offering Republican support for an increase to the cigarette tax in the city, if Democrats vote for the pension plan.
If not, city schools will end up with $96 million less than what Mayor Nutter says is needed in additional funding for the school year.
The $2-per-pack-cigarette tax would bring in about $80 million for the school district.
“That has nothing to do with all the other issues being discussed in Harrisburg. This is a bill that passed city council last year 16 to nothing,” Nutter said.
Without the money, Nutter says 1,300 people will lose their jobs, classes could jump to 41 students per room and schools might not open on time.
“Enough is enough. The children of Philadelphia are being educationally abused.”
If the cigarette tax gets approval, the $2 a pack increase could begin as early as December.
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