Gov. Tom Corbett says he has negotiated a deal that gives $140 million as a rescue package for the cash-strapped Philadelphia School District to help close a $304 million deficit and avoid laying off 20 percent of its workforce and eliminating programs from art to athletics.
Corbett said portions of the aid package will have strings attached, including contract concessions from unionized employees.
Here is the outline of Corbett's plan:
- $30 million in aggressive tax collection by the City of Philadelphia
- $15.9 million additional money in state budget
- $45 million debt forgiveness that the city would no longer have to pay back to the federal government
- extra 1% sales tax extended would create an additional $130 million by 2015
- the city would have to borrow $50 million from future sales tax revenue
Originally, school officials had sought about $130 million in unionized employee concessions, $120 million in additional state aid and $60 million from increased taxes on cigarettes and alcoholic drinks. However, City Council opposed the drinks tax increase.
The devastating consequences of the district's deficit have been widely reported for weeks. All of the school district's 160 assistant principals are being eliminated -- with 127 of them being laid off. Schools will also loose 676 teachers, 283 guidance counselors and 1,202 noon-time aides. More than 300 secretaries and 769 support service assistants also received notice earlier this month.
Eyes now are turned to Philadelphia Teachers Union to see if it will make more than $100 million in concessions to close the budget gap and quite possibly save thousands from being laid off.