Pennsylvania State Education Funding Tax Question (2014)

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A Pennsylvania State Education Funding Tax Question will not appear on the May 20, 2014 ballot in Pennsylvania as an advisory question. The measure would have asked voters whether they approve of an increased tax on either sales, personal income, business or a severance tax imposed on hydraulic fracking operations to raise an additional $1 billion annually for public education. The revenues would have been deposited into a "lock-box" to be used solely for public education purposes.[1][2]

The proposed measure was an advisory question, meaning that the question was a non-binding referendum that would not have forced lawmakers to enact the results.

The measure was proposed by State Representative Dwight Evans (D-203) as House Resolution 613.[1][2]


The advisory question was introduced into the Pennsylvania House of Representatives by Rep. Dwight Evans (D-203) and Rep. Jake Wheatley (D-19).[1]


State Rep. Dwight Evans (D-203), the measure's chief architect, expressed frustration with education policies stemming from Harrisburg.

  • He argued, “The governor gives his budget address on February 4th, and he will outline his proposal regarding the spending of state money. Where is the citizen view? We should put the education issue on the ballot and ask the people."[2]
  • He penned the term “Harrisburg Syndrome,” which he defined as “the chronic and costly practice of refusing to invest responsibly in education.” He continued, “Stemming the Harrisburg Syndrome does not entail more local tax increases, which are yet another symptom of Harrisburg's refusal to invest responsibly in education. I empathize with Philadelphia officials. Proposing new taxes and tax increases is never easy or popular, even when the Philadelphia School District is facing a $300 million shortfall… Education funding is not a Philadelphia problem. It requires a foundational, state approach, especially from the Harrisburg lawmakers who signed off on the education cuts that have left schools and taxpayers across the state reeling.”[3]




  • Rep. Paul Clymer (R-145) said that he supports increased funding for education, but not through taxes. He noted, "We need to look at ways that we can make federal–and to some degree state–government more business friendly and then... we'll see the income for the state and counties increase."[2]

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing ballot measures in Pennsylvania

House Resolution 613, the bill that would require the advisory question, was introduced into the Pennsylvania House of Representatives on January 15, 2014.[1] Before the measure could be placed on the ballot, the state legislature needed to approve the measure for the ballot. Franklin and Marshall College's Dr. Terry Madonna, a political science professor, said, "There's no way the Republican-controlled legislature is going to do that. They're just not going to do that and they're obviously not going to do it in an election year."[2]

See also

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