By State Rep. John Galloway
“Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not.” – George Bernard Shaw
When I was a kid, I loved Bobby Kennedy. He is a big part of why I got involved in politics.
He used Shaw’s quote several times to define why he cared so much. He cared for the poor, the sick, and the elderly. And he was a champion for what he called America’s ‘greatest invention’: the middle class.
One of the first bills I started working on, after being sworn in almost eight years ago, was a constitutional convention to fundamentally change the way we fund our schools.
I have always felt it is the greatest problem facing the middle-class working families and senior citizens of my district and the entire state.
Pennsylvania’s education system is crumbling. Harrisburg rewards larger, growing districts and penalizes smaller school districts like Bristol Borough. Children are treated differently based on their ZIP code.
Harrisburg used to fund 50 percent of school costs. Today it barely reaches 17 percent. And local homeowners are left holding the bag. This has occurred under both Democrats and Republicans.
We pit school board members against teachers against homeowners against seniors. And our kids are caught in the middle, while Harrisburg walks in between the raindrops.
The problem isn’t school boards or homeowners or teachers or seniors. And it sure isn’t our children. The problem is Harrisburg.
A big part of the solution is to move away from funding our schools with a local school property tax and replacing it with an increase in the state’s sales and income taxes.
Imagine a Bristol Borough and a state where our kids are treated equally. Imagine homeowners no longer worried about school property taxes. Imagine the positive effect it would have on our property values, our economy and on our schools.
House Bill 76 has been offered as a solution and I applaud the sponsor, a Republican named Jim Cox from Berks County. We can argue for years about the specifics, but I have always seen it as a starting point.
It’s not whether you agree with everything in the bill. That’s not the point. The point is whether you agree with the concept, because if you do, we can compromise.
Just rejecting the solution out of hand without stating whether you agree on the problem and the concept for a solution is not good enough.
I have reached across the aisle and worked with Republicans to address one of the most divisive issues of our time, illegal immigration. EVERIFY for all public projects is the law of the land in Pennsylvania.
While politicians in Washington continue to argue about compromise, we have already done it. I want to do it again, this time with education.
People ask me why, I say why not?
The great silent majority of this state is sick and tired of politicians fighting and not accomplishing anything. Both parties have their extreme elements that won’t compromise. The result is total gridlock.
And they both have forgotten the middle class.
For the first time since I have been in Harrisburg there is a movement growing around school funding. The great silent majority is mobilizing around this issue. Join us.
Bobby Kennedy was a great man. If he were here today he wouldn’t look at the problem and ask why. He would work to solve the problem and ask, why not?
State Rep. John Galloway, D-Bucks, represents the 140th Legislative District.