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Teachers' union: Corbett holding school funding hostage

READING, Pa. - The Reading Education Association came out Tuesday with strong words against Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett's 2013-14 budget address.

The teachers' union said Pennsylvania's students and their schools deserve better than the proposals Corbett outlined in his speech to a joint session of the state Legislature in Harrisburg.

"Making state funding for our schoolchildren contingent upon statewide privatization efforts is not only irrational, it is also irresponsible," said Bryan Sanguinito, president, Reading Education Association. "Public school funding is being held hostage by Governor Corbett's political gamesmanship, chicanery, and false choices."

In his speech, the governor renewed his controversial call to privatize the state's wine and spirit stores and invest the proceeds, estimated at $1 billion, into K-12 education.

"I can think of no better use for the proceeds created by getting us out of a business we should never have been in than to put those dollars toward the essential responsibilities of state government," said Corbett. "Selling liquor is not a core function of government. Education is."

Corbett said his budget invests an additional $338.1 million in education, but the REA said the governor's proposals aren't enough to help struggling school districts.

"His budget proposals today do very little, if anything, to undo the damage he has already done – especially here in Reading, where $33 million in state funding has been slashed under his leadership," Sanguinito said.

Corbett also discussed his plan for pension reform, which he said would save school districts and local education agencies an estimated $138 million in the 2013-14 school year. The money, he said, will freed up for investment in students.

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