School Code Changes Will Hurt Teachers

Harrisburg – July 27, 2017 – State Sen. Christine M. Tartaglione (D-Philadelphia) said today that the bipartisan revenue package adopted by the state Senate would fix the Actual Value Initiative (AVI) for Philadelphia and is a vast improvement, but new provisions impacting collective bargaining rights for teachers is an affront to labor unions that would cause irreparable harm.

These elements were part of a broad range of legislation considered by the Senate today. Without the approved revenue package, the $31.9 billion General Fund budget approved by the General Assembly in late June would not be balanced.

The revenue package backfills the $2.2 billion revenue deficit, makes significant changes that would aid Philadelphia and prevents a credit downgrade that would impact all taxpayers in Pennsylvania. The tax bill includes, for the first time, a Marcellus Shale energy extraction tax valued at $108 million.

“The changes in the Senate’s version of the Fiscal Code (House Bill 453) would fix the AVI for Philadelphia, which is important to my district and the entire city,” Tartaglione said. “The language would set the market value, cap future increases and prevent the loss of $270 million in state aid to the School District of Philadelphia over five years.”

The AVI fix language would set the maximum market value of property at $47 billion, then cap future increases based on the total increase for all districts. This would limit the amount of increase and help avoid large spikes, Tartaglione noted.

While the AVI change would be a win for Philadelphia, Tartaglione said the new language added to the school code impacting teacher collective bargaining rights is an egregious attack that would harm teachers and impair contract negotiations.

“The provisions added to the school code would allow for teachers to be laid off for economic reasons, refuse to consider seniority rights as it relates to layoffs, and prohibit collective bargaining agreements from dealing with economic-based layoffs,” Tartaglione said. “These are egregious provisions that would hurt labor negotiations and impact the ability of school districts and teachers to reach fair and equitable contract agreements.”

Tartaglione said the changes in the school code would be an overreach that would take away rights of labor unions to bargain fairly.

“It would break down collective bargaining and put teachers at a complete disadvantage,” Tartaglione said. “Plus, it would allow school districts to discharge teachers for economic reasons, which would give way too much discretion to school districts without due process.”

The revenue package, which would include changes to the Fiscal Code, Tax Code, School Code, Administrative Code and Human Services Code, was sent to the state House of Representatives for approval.