Corbett OKs $265 M for Philly School District, Says Cigarette Ta - FOX 10 News |

Corbett OKs $265 M for Philly School District, Says Cigarette Tax Would Assure Longer-Term Funding

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With the start of school just a month away, the issue of funding Philadelphia's public schools remains a big issue.

On Wednesday Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett announced he will authorize $265 million in advance payments to the school district to allow schools to open "on day one" and help avoid layoffs.

Superintendent William Hite says the money won't guarantee buildings will open on time.

Hite says the district still has an $81 million budget gap. He says officials continue to consider layoffs, a delayed start or a shortened school year.

The up-front funding announced by Corbett represents early disbursement of money the schools would normally receive through the academic year.

Corbett says he's disappointed that legislators haven't approved a proposal to let the city enact a $2-per-pack cigarette tax to generate more than $80 million for the schools.

The measure won preliminary votes in both houses but was stalled from passage due to disputes over the measure's other provisions.

On Tuesday, City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson was joined by parents, teachers, students and education advocates for a rally outside the Greenfield Elementary School in Center City.

The rally came days after the state's House of Representatives decided to cancel the August session, in turn postponing a vote on the tax until September.

Corbett and Hite called on lawmakers to pass the tax to assure longer-term funding.

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