Public school funding comes from 3 sources, federal, state, and local (Property taxes). Federal funding to public education is minimal, less than 10%. So the bulk (90-95%) of the funding to support our schools comes from state and local funds.
The Pennsylvania school funding problem is directly related to the percentage of funding that comes from the state. PA ranks 45th in the country based upon the percentage of overall school funding provided by the state. On average, other state governments provide 45% of overall public education costs, but in PA, the state only contributes 36% of the funding required by local school districts. The result is that local property tax payers in Pennsylvania are forced to pay 55% of all public school costs compared to the national average of 44%. The lack of adequate school funding provided by the state is the driving force behind increasing property taxes.
The PA State Legislature is controlled by Republicans and they not only created this funding mess but are continuing to push the issue toward a crisis. Governor Wolf presented an equitable solution to the school funding problem by proposing a 6.5% tax on the state's natural gas drillers and Marcellus Shale production, the Republicans adamantly opposed this tax. While state Republicans refuse to tax big oil and gas they do not have a problem with passing the burden on to homeowners by deliberately increasing property taxes.
State Republicans want to avoid their responsibility to fund the education of our children by focusing only on the debate over their school funding "formula". The funding formula issue was created in 2011 when Republican Corbett took office. The funding formula before Corbett, took into account the number of students within a district and factors such as poverty. State Educational dollars today, are distributed to schools based on what each district received last year, with some additional supplements based on political considerations rather than sound education funding principle. Often the political factors considered are related to the Republican political agenda favoring Charter and private schools over Neighborhood Public Schools.
In simple terms, the Republicans want homeowners to accept the burden of increased property taxes so they can protect Big Oil and Gas producers from paying their fair share of state taxes to support public education.