A good article to read to get the gist of where things stand with Public Education funding in Pennsylvania is "Education cuts? It depends" by Matt Nussbaum, writing in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 24, 2014.
Public Education funding is in reality less than 2010 because the Republicans include payments toward the pension funding which was ignored for the past 15 years under Ridge, Rendell and Corbett. So it is great that Corbett and the legislature are finally doing something about funding the pensions, but this new funding is not directly aiding education and shouldn't be in any comparison to past funding. This article goes a long way to showing what all our school districts are really living with. WIll your property taxes go down? Not with this new funding. The Republicans cut over a billion dollars from public education funding when they took over complete control of all branches of the Commonwealth's government in 2011. Now that they are in a statewide election they have added back some of those funds but it is still not where things were in 2010. And the budget they passed is a fiction with an over $1.4 billion structural deficit so the funding levels aren't even real, but it makes for a good TV sound bite.
From one of the comments on the above article: "Another fact is $782 million of the total Mr. Corbett counts goes into the teacher's pension fund, not the classroom, making up lost ground from the 2001 - 2011 pension contribution holiday enacted by the General Assembly, during which time all teachers and other state employees continued to pay their share." Republicans harp on the fact that Federal stimulus dollars ran out in 2010, after the Republicans in Congress refused to extend a new stimulus to repair our destroyed national economy. Instead of increasing revenue, the State Legislature cut corporate taxes and slashed public education funding because of the resulting decreased revenue.
Here are graphs released by the PA House Appropriations (D) Committee that show the comparisons without the pension funding. Note that in Gov. Rendell's last budget (2010/2011) there was a total of $9,811,291 for Public Education. This dropped to $8,718,727 with the Republican's budget of 2011/2012. And the current 2014/2015 budget just passed by the state legislature and signed by Gov. Corbett last month has only $9,283,338 of funding for Public Education. We need new ideas on how to not only restore the cuts that Corbett, Scavello, Brown and the rest of the Republican majority legislature inflicted on our Commonwealth in 2011, but on how to boost funding of our schools so we improve education, stop closing schools and stop firing teachers; and we cut or eliminate property taxes for those who can't afford the resulting increases. Democratic Candidate for Governor Tom Wolf has proposed a couple of new ideas for reversing this downward spiral, including a severance tax on natural gas production and an increase in the income tax (with concomitant tax exemption for initial amounts of income to protect low-wage earners).