Members of the panel took turns firing questions at Tomalis, who's held senior jobs in Pennsylvania government and the federal government.
Tomalis said the quality of education in Pennsylvania should be judged less on how much taxpayers spend on schools and more on what children learn. He also expressed qualified support for school vouchers, but declined to endorse a particular bill.
The 48-year-old Tomalis was a senior official in former Gov. Tom Ridge's Education Department. He later worked for the U.S. Department of Education and a Washington-based education policy consulting firm before newly elected Gov. Tom Corbett tapped him to join his cabinet.
Cuts in state education spending are expected in Corbett's budget address to the Pennsylvania General Assembly on Tuesday.
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