As lawmakers negotiate a final budget with Gov. Corbett, state Sen. Vincent Hughes said Monday that City Council's preliminary approval last week of an extra $53 million for the city's schools increases the chance of the state providing more money as well.
"It doesn't guarantee it's going to happen," Hughes said. "[But] if the city had not stepped up and increased the local contribution, it pretty much guaranteed that the state would not step up in kind."
Janet Kelley, a spokeswoman for Corbett, said that because budget negotiations continue, the governor's office couldn't say whether the city's additional funds will spur the state to also ante up.
Council is expected to give final approval on Thursday to a temporary 3.85 percent property-tax increase which, along with higher parking-meter rates, would provide $53 million for the school district to help it close a $629 million deficit.
Corbett's 2011-12 fiscal-year budget, proposed in March, would cut the state's education spending by more than $1.1 billion.
In Philadelphia, 1,672 teachers are facing layoffs, while an additional 887 layoff notices went to classroom assistants and other employees, according to the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.
Both Hughes, a Democrat representing West Philadelphia, and state Sen. Michael Stack, a Democrat representing Northeast Philadelphia, said that Corbett should be willing to use some of the projected $600 million state-budget surplus to restore funding to the schools.
"How can we fail in the future of our kids?" Stack said.
But Stack added that he's not happy "with the poor accountability" from the school district and School Reform Commission on how district money is spent.
"We have to have a better accounting," he said, adding that he plans to propose the creation of an elected school board in Philadelphia next week.
Meanwhile, Hughes introduced legislation Monday that would revoke the SRC's power to unilaterally terminate bargaining agreements with its labor unions.
The budget the SRC passed last month depends on $75 million in savings from the district's five labor unions.
"That sends a really bad message, not just to the five bargaining units, but it sends a negative message to labor in general," Hughes said from the floor of the Senate late Monday afternoon. "When you make a unilateral decision to cancel that contract, it goes against the basic fiber of our society."
PFT President Jerry Jordan Monday praised Hughes for sponsoring the bill, which offers "Philadelphia teacher-contract protections."
"It is certainly an indication of how much Senator Hughes respects working people," Jordan said. "He believes a contract is a contract and should be honored."