Peter Greene: Doug Mastriano Wants To Defund Public Education In Pennsylvania
Doug Mastriano is a bad choice for Pennsylvania governor for many reasons, but one of the big disqualifiers is his plan for defunding education.
Mastriano has argued that Pennsylvania’s property tax should be cut to zero. His current campaign website promises a “Property Tax Elimination Task Force” (since this piece was published, that promise has disappeared from the Mastriano website). He has never suggested replacing that lost revenue with any other source; in fact, his website also promises to cut gas tax and corporate net income tax.
Pennsylvania, like most states, uses real estate tax money to fund public education. Mastriano argues that his cuts can be paid for by “redirecting our state funds to follow students instead of systems” i.e. a school voucher program.
Mastriano envisions those vouchers as far less expensive than current spending. In a March interview, citing a figure of roughly $19,000 spent per student in Pennsylvania schools, Mastriano suggested cutting that to nine or ten thousand per student—roughly half.
It’s a bad plan for so many reasons.
Mastriano’s program would mean brutal defunding of rural districts, yet there are few private schools operating in those communities (and those have limited capacity). Those families would see funding for their local schools gutted, and in return they would get nothing. And as always with voucher systems, private schools get to choose their students, and not the other way around.
Such a system would also result in a loss of local control. Communities can now choose to raise their own taxes to strengthen local schools or promote capital improvements; without the ability to levy real estate taxes, local school boards would lose that power.
This piece by Peter Greene ran in Forbes back in August. Since then, nothing has come from the campaign to suggest that Mastriano has new, better idea. Mastriano’s gutting of education would be destructive of education in the Keystone State.