Rivera, Cruz & Acosta: Latino Voices
Jim Smith/El Hispano
Philadelphia – For first-term Governor Tom Wolf, the political maxim that “elections have consequences,” appears to have little sway over the majority Republican State Assembly. The flouting of the first-term Democratic Governor’s agenda has brought sharp rebukes from a trio of Harrisburg’s Latino Leaders: Pennsylvania Education Secretary Pedro Rivera, Assemblywoman Leslie Acosta (D-Phila.) and Assemblyman Angel Cruz (D-Phila.).
After referring to a bipartisan education funding plan that would “adequately and equitably” fund the state’s public schools, Pennsylvania Education Secretary, Pedro Rivera released a statement this week saying, “Gov. Wolf’s historic commitment to education restores $1 billion in devastating cuts made over the last four years, with a commitment to invest $2 billion over the next four years.”
Gov. Wolf’s 2015-2016 budget plan includes a $400 million increase to basic education funding and a boost to Pennsylvania’s commitment to education from the current 35 percent level to 50 percent, noted Secretary Rivera, a former Superintendent of the Lancaster School district.
While touching on the property tax relief sought by Gov. Wolf and the education cuts of the previous Corbett administration, Secretary Rivera said, Wolf’s fair “funding formula” provides “Pennsylvania children with the resources they need to learn and skills they need to compete in the 21st century.”
Rep. Angel Cruz denounced a Republican majority that he suggests is ignoring the recent election: “Pennsylvanians sounded off at the last election and what they wanted was clear. They want schools that teach, government that works and jobs that pay.”
Noting that the Republican budget proposal neither addressed the structural deficit or the need to lower property taxes, Rep. Cruz accused Republican leaders of embracing “the failed strategy of the previous administration.”
Of that earlier strategy, he added, “They didn’t work then, don’t they don’t work now.”
While accusing the Republican majority of placing “gimmicks over governing,” and “completely” ignoring the results of the recent election, Rep. Leslie Acosta argued, “Pennsylvanians have made it clear they want a new approach to funding our schools and helping our senior citizens.”
“It’s long past time to enact a commonsense natural gas severance tax to fund our schools, and to fund other ways to give our most vulnerable students the quality education they deserve,” said Rep. Acosta, a former school teacher.
“We owe it to our students and teachers to do better.”