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Pennsylvania Can’t Just Backfill Budget, Duncan Tells Governor

In a letter to Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell in June, Arne Duncan warned that the state may jeopardize its chances of receiving additional stimulus money, particularly through the Race to the Top fund, if it uses its present stimulus funding only to make up for cuts to education in the state budget. Rendell had sought a statement from Duncan on the matter.


Duncan expressed displeasure at a plan by Pennsylvania’s Republican-led Senate to reduce the share of the state budget for education while leaving intact the state’s $750 million rainy-day fund. Calling the plan “a disservice to our children,” Duncan wrote, “Each state has an obligation to play its part in spurring today’s economy and protecting our children’s education.”

Speaking at a high school in southeastern Pennsylvania a week before Duncan’s letter arrived, Rendell, a Democrat, had expressed his own opposition to the Senate plan. “The Senate’s approach is simply wrong,” he said. “It would reverse six years of progress in boosting student achievement and pass the buck for funding our schools from Harrisburg to local communities. School districts would face the terrible choice of hiking property taxes or making draconian cuts to quality education programs.”