The plan, pitched by Wolf in February, is to increase the commonwealth’s personal income tax from 3.07% to 4.49% in the next fiscal year, in an attempt to erode some of the education funding inequities in the state.
Wolf plans to exempt most Pennsylvanians from the tax hike, which he says would only fall on the wealthiest third of Pennsylvania’s residents.
According to a study by the Public Interest Law Center on school funding nationally, Pennsylvania has the third greatest funding gaps in the nation between wealthy and low-income school districts.
The highest poverty districts in Pennsylvania receive about $2,500 less per student than districts with the lowest poverty. The report called the disparity “devastatingly large.”
During Monday’s press conference, State Sen. Vincent Hughes repeated the same words four times: “The funding of education in Pennsylvania is separate and unequal.”
Hughes said the status quo “perpetuates the wealth and it’s disparity,” and that Wolf’s proposal “attempts to get at equity and adequacy.”
Multiple students spoke about their experiences in Philadelphia schools Monday. All the students recalled poor infrastructure, like falling ceilings, flooding, asbestos, mold, and lead in their buildings.
Amaiyah-Monet Parker, sophomore at Central High School, lamented cuts to foriegn language and extracurricular classes like music and art. She said her textbooks are damaged and the school lacks enough school counselors.
“Students should not have to daydream about a quality education when students just a few blocks away are receiving it because their schools are better funded,” said Parker.