Following is a factual sequence designed to tell you why you should do more than listen to slickly delivered television ads before voting in this year's Pennsylvania governor's race.
The ad running everywhere right now says that Gov. Tom Corbett cut $1 billion in education funding. First, this conveniently omits the fact that the final budget number is a function of House and Senate negotiations that follow the governor's budget proposal and precede his final signature.
Beyond that, the ad is factually untrue. State education spending in Gov. Ed Rendell's last three budgets was $9.6 billion, reduced to $9.2 billion, and finally, reduced to $8.9 billion. These budgets were augmented by two years of federal stimulus funding of $6.55 million and $1 billion, bolstering those spending totals with temporary money.
That money, as promised, was cut off the year Corbett took office and was partially responsible for the $4 billion deficit going into his first budget.
Nevertheless, the first Corbett budget included $9.4 billion in state education spending. That's a half billion more than the last education allocation by Rendell. The next budget education spending was increased to $9.98 billion, a record. And this year's budget includes $10.5 billion in education funding, an all-time high that tops the last education spending total before Corbett took office by $1.6 billion. So, far from cutting state education funding, Corbett and the Legislature he works with on the budget have increased the total to record amounts.
It's the political season and there's a lot at stake. We get that. Slick ads that intentionally leave out key facts to make a point, inaccurate though it may be, are part of the landscape.
Some people are comfortable delivering this knowingly inaccurate information.