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Keating Appointee Out of Touch on School Funding Issues, Should Take Complaints to Governor

A Senate leader is offering some remedial education to one of Governor Keating's education appointees, reminding him that the Governor has been less than supportive of the Legislature's efforts to improve school funding and protect education revenue sources.

Senator Cal Hobson was responding to remarks made by Luke Corbett at a State Board of Education meeting Tuesday. Corbett, a board member appointed by Governor Keating, complained that Legislature had not appropriated enough money for school needs, but failed to mention the Governor's role in the process.

"Apparently, Mr. Corbett still doesn't understand the education appropriations process and the role his boss plays in it. If he bothered to take even a cursory look at the facts, he'd realize that Governor Keating has been one of the biggest obstacles standing in the way of increased school funding. The Governor likes to take credit for signing big education budgets drafted by the Legislature, but when it comes to really trying to increase or protect school funding, he's been a much bigger hindrance than a help," said Hobson, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education.

In a letter to Corbett, the Senate budget leader pointed out that every year under the Keating administration, the Legislature has approved a larger education budget increase than originally proposed by the Governor.

He also noted that Governor Keating and his lieutenants have consistently questioned the need for additional school funding, contending that education officials simply need to manage their money better. The Keating administration has further underminedefforts to increase education funding by trying to chip away at the revenue base that supports the public schools.

"The consistent message peddled by the Keating administration is that schools have plenty of money and we can whittle away at the revenue base without hurting education. As Mr. Corbett has learned through his own on-the-job training, that's not true. I think he should pass that knowledge along to Governor Keating," noted Hobson.

In his letter, Hobson asked the Kerr-McGee executive to use his clout with the Governor to lobby for increased school funding. He also urged Corbett to take a public stand in opposition to any proposals that would further erode the tax base that supports education.

"If he really wants to be productive and help public education, Mr. Corbett should use his influence to persuade the Governor to be more supportive of the public schools and quit hacking away at their revenue base. The next time Governor Keating dreams up a big tax cut or tries to ship more money off to the private prison industry, Mr. Corbett should stand up and publicly remind him that his proposals will take much-needed money away from public education," said Hobson.

On a related note, Senator Hobson also clarified questions raised about this year's $3,000 teacher pay increase. A published report indicated that Corbett and other board members thought that veteran teachers were excluded from the pay raise when in fact every teacher was given an increase.

"Every teacher received at least a $3,000 pay increase. There shouldn't be any confusion over that," said Hobson.

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Senate Communications Division - (405) 521-5605