There are two big questions looming in Harrisburg that affect the entire state, but especially Pittsburgh. And that is, will Gov. Tom Corbett give in and allot more money for education and Public Transit?
If he doesn’t, PAT is saying they will be forced to cut their service by as much as 35 percent and the Pittsburgh school system will be laying off 1 of 6 teachers and overall 400 to 600 school personnel across the board, from teachers to maintenance to administrators.
Education should be one of—if not the most important part of—any state budget, yet under the GOP leadership in the house, senate and governor’s office, it appears to be the least important when it comes to funding. No city, state or country is going to move forward if its youth are not properly educated, yet we can fund everything else but our schools. Yet we still expect quality education from them.
Could this really be a ploy by the GOP to totally destroy public schools, to replace them with charters, vouchers, and private schools? Even though public schools has not done the job that they should have over the years in respect to Black students, anything supported by the GOP scares me because they do not have a history of caring or trying to help Blacks, middle or low income people. What makes me wonder about their intensions?
As far as the Port Authority, if they cut back 35 percent, it’s going to be devastating to the Black communities throughout Allegheny County. Not only do a large percentage of low-income people use the bus but also people working Downtown or near Downtown would be devastated if bus service was stopped. No average income person can afford to pay for parking Downtown, or the Oakland area. Yes Oakland is an area that employs thousands of people, just like Downtown, who take the bus to work. Because parking in Oakland is just as bad as parking Downtown, it will be an extreme hardship on those workers if bus service is ended. Then think of the traffic jams on the Parkways, West and East. They will be like a huge parking lot.
Every year there has been a big threat by PAT about massive cuts, to be bailed out by the governor each year. But this year we have a Republican governor, which it remains to be seen if he comes up with something, because remember the people most affected are not the rich. But maybe if some of the major corporations throughout western Pennsylvania start feeling the crunch, it will cause the governor, the Pennsylvania senate and the house to act on funding PAT.
This whole budget mess makes me wonder if balancing the budget is really that important. Don’t most of us average people have to owe somebody in order to have anything in life when it comes to our own personal budget? I understand that we can’t go hog wild, but come on. Will spending a few more dollars in education and toward public transportation really hurt us that much, compared to what it will cost us not to do it? “Are we throwing out the baby with the bath water?”
(Ulish Carter is managing editor of the New Pittsburgh Courier)