Calling himself "the lobbyist for the children of Pennsylvania," Gov. Rendell toured suburban school districts today to rally support for his proposed education budget.

Invading the homes bases of some Republican state legislators, he made stops at schools in Kennett Square, Chester County, and Hatboro, in Montgomery County. Later in the day he is scheduled to speak in Doylestown.

The governor is calling for a $355 million increase - 6.4 percent - in state basic education funding, the state's main school subsidy.

Citing what he called the educational gains that Pennsylvania children have made since he took office, he said that "the battle is joined" again this year to keep the education budget going up.

"Spending works," he said. "We've got to get away from the idea that all spending is all bad."

Rendell said that it might be possible to raise the subsidies without new revenues.

But, just to make sure there's enough money, he called for the legislature to tax the extraction of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale, along with cigars and smokeless tobacco. He also called for eliminating tax loopholes for businesses that operate in other states, and broadening the state sales tax.

His proposed new revenues "all make sense," he said. "There's simply no excuse for not supporting it."

"If we care about our children, we care about our future, we can do this.

"We can keep the incredible progress and momentum" in public education, he added.

"It's easy. Show some guts."

Contact staff writer Dan Hardy at 610-313-8134 or