Tom Wolf with Mayor Dwan Walker (Photo Credit: KDKA)
By Jon Delano
BEAVER COUNTY (KDKA) — Students in Aliquippa had the day off — except for the undefeated football team hard at practice.
But that didn’t stop Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf from pushing his education plan at the high school.
“We’d like to welcome you all. If you’ve never been here before, this is Aliquippa,” quipped Mayor Dwan Walker.
Walker, with State Rep. Rob Matzie and school superintendent Dave Wytiaz, briefed the candidate before a short press conference.
“I’m here because this is important to me as a Pennsylvanian,” said Wolf.
“Education actually matters,” he added. “It doesn’t matter because I’m running for governor. It matters to all of us who want to build a business in Pennsylvania. It matters to all of us who want to build a family in Pennsylvania. It matters to all of us who actually care about a society where people can actually get a head. This is how we transform lives.”
By imposing an extraction tax on natural gas drilling, Wolf pledged to bring state funding of education back up to half of school spending
“I want to take the state share of funding from somewhere in the 30s up to 50 percent,” he noted.
Wolf repeated there would be no income tax hike for families who make under $180,000, and he pledged to deliver a school property tax cut.
“The middle class has not had a break in 20 years. People are screaming about the property tax. We’ve been trying to do something about that since the 1980s,” he said.
Most polls suggest that education is either the number one or number two issue in this race for governor.
So it’s no surprise that Wolf brought his campaign to a school. What is a surprise is that he brought it to Aliquippa, one of the school districts that is facing a number of challenges.
Those include unfair state formulas that hurt poorer districts — like payments for charter and cyber schools – says Superintendent Wytiaz.
“We are spending $1.3 million out of a $20 million budget on charter school costs,” Wytiaz told KDKA political editor Jon Delano.
Wolf promised to address that, too.