Morning Must Reads: State Budget Priorities 101: Education or Business Tax Breaks?

Wednesday brought protests across Pennsylvania over state budget cuts to education. To start things off, here are some of the news clips from demonstrations in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg and elsewhere in the state.

More than 1,000 students, parents and staff members of the Harrisburg School District gathered to send a loud message to state legislators that the capital city’s schools need more funding to survive.

Eleven people were arrested Wednesday as about 200 demonstrators marched through Downtown Pittsburgh to protest Gov. Tom Corbett's proposed cuts in education funding.

Fourteen people, including labor leader George Ricchezza, were arrested for blocking traffic after they laid down red-white-and-blue “Save Our Schools” banners, sat in the middle of Broad and Race Streets, and refused to budge.

Demonstrators around the state, including more than 1,500 in Philadelphia, protested education cuts and the possible layoff of every member of SEIU 32BJ Local 1201, the city schools union representing bus assistants, cleaners, mechanics, and other workers. All have received pink slips and could be let go by the end of the year.

A total of 25 people were arrested during massive demonstrations in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh as they blocked traffic downtown in both cities, police said. Hundreds more demonstrated at the Capitol in Harrisburg, and organizers said similar rallies were scheduled in cities including Doylestown, Hollidaysburg, Bethlehem, Hazleton, and Greensburg.

The protest sign above from the Harrisburg rally reads: "It's Not A Revenue Problem. It's a Priorities Problem." If our priorities are not education, then what are they? Careful work by my colleagues at the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center finds that the cost of business tax breaks have TRIPLED in the last 10 years and will reach $2.4 BILLION next year.


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