Mark Dodel, BSN, MBA, RN (retired)

Blogs are the opinions of the bloggers only, and do not necessarily represent every Democrat or the Monroe County Democrats However, the MCD sponsors this blog to express and share the many ideas within our party.

Mark has lived in the Poconos for 25+ years now, is retired from Nursing as well as a Healthcare Clinical Systems Analyst and has been active with the Democratic party since the 2008 Presidential election.  He was elected to the Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee in November 2014 and was re-elected to that position on 2018 Primary Election ballot. .

FAQ on Voting in Monroe County

The following is not to be considered a complete source of information about voting in Pennsylvania but should cover most information needed. You can get more answers to your questions at

Any US Citizen, 18 years or older can vote in Pennsylvania as long as they have been a resident of the district for at least 30 days. You can register to vote in 3 ways in Pennsylvania.

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Attention constituents of PA District 176

The following was posted on our MCDC Facebook Post. People need to hold their legislators accountable:

A group of people from the 176th district, led by Peggy Walsh from Fair Districts PA, asked several times to meet with Rep. Jack Rader to discuss the Legislative and Congressional Redistricting Act (LACRA), House Bill 22 and Senate Bill 222. As detailed below, no meeting occurred. The following letter to the editor is being sent to the Pocono Record, signed by seven people from District 176.
Additionally, with a few tweaks, we sent the same letter directly to Rep. Rader. If you live in the 176th, please feel free to copy the letter below and send your own version to Rep. Rader [Address: 2785 PA-115, Effort, PA 18330]. It should not be too much to ask for a brief personal meeting (in person, by phone, Zoom, etc.) with our state representative to discuss an issue that affects everyone in PA.
In March, Fair Districts PA embarked on a March toward Transparency campaign in which volunteers requested meetings with their own state representatives and senators in every district in Pennsylvania.
Most of our Pennsylvania legislators have been gracious. If they were too busy to meet themselves, they made sure that their constituents had the opportunity to meet with staff members. To date, many PA legislators have taken the time to listen to constituents share concerns about gerrymandered districts and splintered counties and municipalities. As a result of those meetings, many legislators agreed to sign on as co-sponsors of the Legislative and Congressional Redistricting Act (LACRA), House Bill 22 and Senate Bill 222. Other legislators asked for more information. Some have continued in email conversation with constituents. Some have elected not to co-sponsor and have provided their reasons. We are grateful to ALL these legislators for taking time to listen to their constituents.
Sadly, our legislator Representative Jack Rader, District 176, has refused two of our requests to meet with him, and actually, implied that it was too late to consider the LACRA reform bill because the process had already started. We respectfully pointed out that Rep Rader was incorrect in this assumption, and made a third request to meet with his legislative aid if he was too busy for his constituents. Our third request was ignored, even though we offered to wait until the end of April.
Our legislative districts will be redrawn this year. Before that occurs, we want the opportunity to explain why we need new rules to ensure fair maps. This issue is critically important, and we want Representative Rader to represent us. We don’t want our maps to be gerrymandered again by either major political party.
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Brief FAQ for folks new to Monroe County.

We have lots of new folks moving into the Poconos now. Welcome to the area. Here are just a few useful things to know about your new home town.

Brief FAQ for folks new to Monroe County.

(Note: information is accurate as of posting on 06/19/2021)
The Poconos actually takes in a broad area that includes parts of the surrounding counties but Monroe County is the heart of the Poconos and many resorts are located in our county. Main employers in the county are the Tobyhanna Army Depot, Sanofi Pasteur, East Stroudsburg University, Northampton Community College, Lehigh Valley Health Network - Pocono and St. Lukes Hospital Monroe. But this is still a tourist area with ski resorts, camps, campgrounds and in the past 2 decades or so several water parks. Golf, hunting, fishing and water sports are big interests here. People retire to Monroe county just to play the different golf courses. We also have a major NASCAR race track, Pocono Raceway ( ) in Long Pond ( which is really Tunkhannock Township ) and Mount Airy Casino in Mt Pocono.
Monroe County has a population of about 170,000+ people. County Government is run by a board of 3 County Commissioners and the county seat where the court house and County Administration Building is located is in Stroudsburg. Large areas of the county are state park land as well as the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation area. Anyone who has lived here for a while is aware that we have some of the most pristine streams in the state. 
There are no cities in Monroe County. There are the Boroughs of Delaware Water Gap, East Stroudsburg, Mt Pocono and Stroudsburg. These are like little cities with a Mayor and a Borough Council governing them. They tend to have city type services like public water and sewer. Most people here think they live in these municipalities but many don't. They just have mailing addresses that are for the post offices of Stroudsburg and East Stroudsburg. Your actual municipality is the Borough or Township you pay property taxes to if you own a home.
The rest of the county is divided up into Townships which include: Barrett, Chestnuthill, Coolbaugh, Eldred, Hamilton, Jackson, Middle Smithfield, Paradise, Polk, Price, Ross, Smithfield, Stroud, Tobyhanna and Tunkhannock. These have a board of Township Supervisors or in the case of Pocono Township Township Commissioners. These Township areas tend to have fewer municipal services and you may have septic and a well for your water. When you lose electric which can happen during a storm, you will lose your water so have supplies of water and/or a generator for such instances.
Since we have a lot of people new to the county, here is the 2021 Monroe County Municipal Directory. It lists county officials as well as each municipality (Boroughs and townships), meeting schedules and local municipal staff and committees that people can volunteer for.
If you are interested in getting involved in your municipality or county then attend meetings. If not this directory can still help if you need help with zoning or something else related to living here and dealing with local government.

Some areas have no local police. We rely on the PA State Police who have a barracks/station on 2730 Rimrock Drive in Hamilton Township ( 570-619-6480 ) covers Hamilton, Middle Smithfield, Paradise, Price, and Smithfield Townships in Monroe County. Also covers all of I-80 and I-380 in Monroe County and Delaware Water Gap Borough when Delaware Water Gap PD are off duty. and another in Tobyhanna Township at 127 Parkside Avenue, Blakeslee, ( 570-646-2271 ) covers Chestnuthill & Jackson Townships in Monroe County. 
Delaware Water Gap Police ( 570-476-4674 ) covers Delaware Water Gap Borough on a part-time basis. PA State Police at Stroudsburg cover when Delaware Water Gap PD is off duty.
Pocono Mountain Regional Police Department
( 570-895 - 2400 ) serves the communities of Coolbaugh Township, Mount Pocono Borough, Tobyhanna Township, Tunkhannock Township and Barrett Township.
Pocono Township Police
( 570-629-7200 ) covers Tannersville, Scotrun, parts of Bartonsville, Henryville & Swiftwater within Pocono Township
Stroud Area Regional Police Department
( 570-421-6800 ) serves the communities of Stroudsburg, East Stroudsburg and Stroud Township.
In an emergency dial 9-1-1. All Emergency calls are handled by the Monroe County Emergency Call Center
( 570-992-4500 ) which is located at 100 Gypsum Rd in Hamilton Township. 
Fire Departments are volunteer and are always in need of new folks to help train for emergencies. You can find a list of all fire companies in Monroe County on the Monroe County Emergency website -
Ambulance services have designated coverage areas. When you call 9-1-1 the ambulance for your area will take you to the closest hospital that can best handle your needs. A list of all EMS providers are also found on the Monroe County Emergency website -
Both are part of health care systems based in the Lehigh Valley. 
Lehigh Valley Health Network - 
( 570-421-4000 ) located in East Stroudsburg is the oldest, largest and those of us who have been here for more than 5 years probably still refer to it as Pocono Medical Center. They are a Level III trauma center with an extensive Emergency Department and they have the Dale and Francis Hughes Cancer Center that's a member of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Alliance. They also have a full functioning Heart Program, the ESSA Heart and Vascular Center with diagnostic and interventional cardiac cath labs, cardiac rehab as well as open heart surgery program. Pocono is the only provider with obstetrics and NICU services.
St. Lukes Monroe Campus 
( 1-866-STLUKES ) is located in Stroud Township on Rt 611 near Bartonsville. It is a relatively new facility with a Level IV trauma center. They have an emergency Department as well as cardiac catheterization services.
East Stroudsburg Area School District (ESASD) 
( 570-424-8500 ) which covers the Borough of East Stroudsburg, and the Townships of Smithfield, Middle Smithfield, Price as well as Lehman and Porter Townships in Pike County.
Pleasant Valley School District (PVSD) 
( 570-402-1000 ) which covers the Townships of Eldred, Ross, Polk, Chestnuthill.
Pocono Mountain School District (PMSD) 
( 570-839-7121 ) covers the Borough of Mt Pocono and the Townships of Tobyhanna, Tunkhannock, Coolbaugh, Jackson, Paradise and Barrett. 
Stroudsburg Area School District (SASD) 
( 570-421-1990 ) covers the Boroughs of Stroudsburg and Delaware Water Gap and the Townships of Hamilton and Stroud.
Barrett Paradise Friendly Library
6500 PA-191, Cresco, PA 18326, (570) 595-7171
Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri: 10am – 4:30pm
Wednesday: 10am – 6:30pm
Saturday: 10am – 1:30pm
Clymer Library
115 Firehouse Rd, Pocono Pines, PA 18350, (570) 646-0826
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday: 10am - 5pm
Tuesday: 10am - 7pm
Saturday: 10am - 2pm
Eastern Monroe Public Library
Hughes Main Library
1002 PA-611, Stroudsburg, PA 18360, (570) 421-0800
Monday - Wednesday: 9 am - 5 pm
Thursday: 9 am - 7 pm
Friday -Saturday: 9 am - 5 pm
Sunday: Closed
Pocono Township Branch Library - Eastern Monroe Public Library
112 RR 611, Tannersville, PA 18372, (570) 629-5858
Curbside Pickup Service
Monday - Friday: 9 am - 5 pm
Saturday: 10 am - 2 pm
Sunday: Closed
Library of the Smithfields - Eastern Monroe Public Library
Located in: Middle Smithfield Township Community & Cultural Center
5200 Milford Rd, East Stroudsburg, PA 18302, (570) 223-1881
Monday - Wednesday: 9 am - 5 pm
Thursday: 9 am - 7 pm
Friday -Saturday: 9 am - 5 pm
Sunday: Closed
Western Pocono Community Library
131 Pilgrim Way, Brodheadsville, PA 18322, (570) 992-7934
Monday: 9am - 8pm
Tuesday: 9am - 5pm
Wednesday: 9am - 8pm
Thursday: 9am - 8pm
Friday: 9am-5pm
Saturday: 9am - 4pm
Sunday: closed
Please note: WPCL is closed for cleaning noon-1pm every day & again from 5-6pm on M/W/Th
Recycling in Monroe County
Trash haulers in the county will pick up recycling with your trash for an added cost. What is picked up is detailed by the trash hauler you contract with. If you are a resident of East Stroudsburg or Stroudsburg Borough they collect recyclables on specified days or you can take recyclables to the TWIN BOROUGHS RECYCLE DROP OFF CENTER, is open daily Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., except for holidays. On Saturdays, the Recycling Center is open 8:00 a.m. until 11:30 AM. It is located off Lincoln Avenue just south of Interstate 80. From Brown Street, take Lincoln Ave. past Wal*Mart underneath I-80 and make a right into the Recycling Center driveway. You can check what items they accept on their website: 
You must show proof that your are a resident of either borough to use this facility.
The County Waste Authority runs 2 recycling locations in the county. You must register on their website to use them. Sad this has to be the case but they have had problems in the past with people dumping trash at recycling sites. To register online:
What they accept can be found listed on their website:
Generally they only take: Corrugated cardboard and boxes, paper: office, newspapers, magazines, junk mail, shredded paper, books, cereal boxes and the like, plastics: numbers 1 & 2, no black plastic of any number accepted, aluminum, bi-metal cans, and glass. NO PLASTIC BAGS OR FILM.
Electronics can be brought to the Blakeslee Office location at 183 Commercial Blvd., Blakeslee, PA 18610. from Monday-Friday 8:30-4:00 pm. There is no charge to recycle electronics.
Current recycling locations are:
DCNR - Monday, Friday, Saturday 7:30am – 3:30pm
Pocono Township
2174 PA-611,
Swiftwater, PA 18370

Military Road Recycling Site - Monday, Friday, Saturday 7:30am – 3:30pm
Stroud Township
1114 Military Road
Stroudsburg, PA 18360

If you find a dead deer by the road that needs to be removed call the Waste Authority at 570-643-6100. Leave your name, phone number and the township/borough and nearest cross roads where it can be located.
Information about additional recyclable items like large appliances and tires can be found on the Monroe County Waste Authority website
You can report any illegal dumping to the Monroe County Waste Authority Police 570-643-6100 or submit a complaint online below.

Also each municipality may have their own annual or semi-annual cleanup events where you can bring a car load of junk. These are usually in the Spring and Fall. Call or check your township/Borough’s website for dates/times and what they accept.

Ticks - Vector Control Program

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Before you vote your Mail Ballot, check this out.

Received our Mail Ballot today. We are already receiving emails and phone calls about issues with the mail ballots. 

1. NOTE: The sample ballots are different than the layout of the Mail Ballots. On the Mail Ballots you MUST VOTE ON BOTH SIDES OF THE BALLOT. The back of the Mail Ballot has the REPRESENTATIVE IN THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY position.

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Want to help?

People keep contacting us asking how to help. It all depends on what you are comfortable doing. Here are some ways people can help your Democratic party and our candidates.

We need poll observers on election day to watch the polls and see if anyone is being denied their right to vote. We never have enough people to cover all the polls in a normal year so this election is really challenging. We have voter protection attorneys for our county who will be available to help if a legal issue comes up. If it is a voter intimidation issue then the police need to be called. But someone has to be there to call.

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Are you ready to vote?

57 Days until Election Day and less than 30 Days until Mail Ballots are ready. Are you ready to vote? This is the most important election of our life time. We need every vote to win. So we ask that every voter have a plan to vote. Everything you need to vote you can find on the Pennsylvania Department of State’s website

First check online to make sure your Voter Registration is correct. Go to:

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Election subversion right here in Monroe County

I heard that a small group of people had a parade through East Stroudsburg to Stroudsburg over the past weekend, ostensibly about the "Save The Children" sex trafficking issue. They had a police escort and a fire truck. I'm told there were Trump signs which I found odd since Trump has been accused of raping an underage girl and publicly bragged about walking into a dressing room of undressed teenage girls. Also someone was carrying an "Investigate Pizzagate" sign which is about a 4 year old truly sick lie propagated by insane rightwing operatives about a child sex ring in a pizza place basement in D.C. to attack the Hillary campaign. And we have seen what lies like that accomplished.

Then I saw an article in the New York Times today linking the lunatic fringe conspiracy group, QAnon, which supports Trump, to having hijacked the #SaveTheChildren moniker to lure unknowing people into their web of lies. Now I learn there is a local Facebook group of that name ( Marching in The Poconos to Save the Children ) that posts QAnon anti-government images and conspiracies (See below image as an example). None of which has anything to do with children. Please be careful who and what you support. It may have a plausible sounding veneer but just be a scam. Frighteningly QAnon has been labeled as a Domestic Terrorist group by the FBI in 2019. 
QAnon image from This is all about subverting our election. Don't fall for it. VOTE in the upcoming General Election to bring back truth and decency back to our government. And not just vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Be sure to vote for all our candidates including Matt Cartwright and Susan Wild for Congress, and our three candidates for statewide office:  Josh Shapiro, Attorney General, Joe Torsella, Treasurer, and Nina Ahmad, Auditor General. Be sure to re-elect Rep. Maureen Madden (D-115th), and elect Adam Rodriguez (189th) and Claudette Williams (176th) as PA State Representatives, we'll be joining the effort to flip our Commonwealth Bright BLUE and give Governor Wolf a legislature that won't block his initiatives and finally allow popular Democratic proposals on the agenda.

Vote for all the Democratic candidates. You can Register and request a Mail Ballot online at Do it now and be sure to VOTE your Mail Ballot ASAP if you are mailing it back as Trump is deliberately hurting the USPS to stop your vote from counting.

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How To Vote By Absentee Ballot

Pennsylvania has some of the most restrictive voting requirements in the country. We don't have vote by mail. We don't have early voting. We don't allow voting anywhere except at your assigned polling location on election day. Believe it or not many other states have one or more of these features which make it a lot easier to vote.

We only allow voting on the assigned Tuesday in the Spring for the Primary and in November for the General elections. Not everyone can be off on those single days and many may be out of the area or incapable of getting to their polling place for health reasons. If any of this applies to you, you need to vote by Absentee Ballot.

To vote by Absentee Ballot in Pennsylvania you must fill out an application form which you can download online. Besides your name you have to enter your address with your township or borough NOT your postoffice. For example my mailing address is Stroudsburg, PA 18360, but on this form I enter Hamilton Township, PA 18360.  You enter your regular mailing address, or if you are away at college or out of the state the address you can receive mail at, in the area for where to mail the ballot. You should also enter your polling place if you know it or Voter Registration will locate it for you. An ID number, either your PA Driver License number or the last four digits of your social security number is required. You then must fill in either a medical reason you can't get to your polling place or a reason you will be away from your polling precinct for the day ( ie work or travel ) . Finally sign and date the form and either drop it off at the county voter office or mail it to the correct address for your county voter office.

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Stop playing politics and fix school funding before many more people can no longer afford to live here any more.

Taking the politics out of fair funding for public education shows that areas of the state that thrive under the current system are losing students as people flee those areas. Those districts are getting 50 to 70% of their education budget funded by the state.

Areas that have experienced fast growth with new families and students are getting less than 50%, in some cases like the Pocono area districts less than 40%, down into the low 30's. Fair funding would balance that so every district gets the same funding from the state. Yes we would benefit from fair funding, but those that will receive less have been benefitting for decades. They are also the reason that Republican legislators in those areas refuse to sign on to property tax reform since they are paying so much less than we have to because the state already picks up the lion's share of their public school costs.

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Not really useful Property Tax Reform...

Senator Scavello has introduced his property tax bill, which states it is "...for the imposition of a Statewide personal income tax; authorizing the imposition of a personal income tax or an earned income tax by a school district subject to voter approval; providing for school property tax exclusion; and making repeals." But reading the actual text of the bill*, IT IS REALLY A STATEWIDE ABILITY FOR A SCHOOL DISTRICT TO ELECT TO IMPOSE A LOCAL INCOME TAX to displace their property tax. This is NOT a statewide personal income tax bill. The state will collect the tax but it is up to the local school board to decide to do this and then put it up to a vote among the voters of the district. 

This just moves the local property tax to a local income tax within that school district. Won't that drive small businesses out of the district if the nearby districts don't do this? Business owners still have to pay property tax and pay a higher income tax.

Recent comment in this post
Linda Zak
Thanks for putting this in plain English...without all the deceptive and misleading phrasing that confuses us voters !
Friday, 27 April 2018 20:13
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Review of Tesla Model X

Recently the Pocono Record had a Chicago Tribune article outlining the current market for electric vehicles (EVs). Affordable plug-in vehicles aim to recharge marketplace.  The article talked about EV sales being down in 2015 and that they account for 1% of annual sales in the US. This is probably for two reasons, the price of gasoline is down under $2 a gallon this past year and also most of these vehicles have limited driving range. Almost all of the cars listed were either gasoline/electric plugin hybrids or all electric models with a range of 75 to 100 miles on a full charge. These are mostly for city driving or short commutes. The gasoline engines extend range but hybrids are very complex machines.

I had a Toyota Highlander Hybrid for over 7 years and while it was a reliable, great car, it had the same maintenance requirements as any other internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle. It needed oil and filter changes, engine air filters, coolant system checks, transmission system checks and fluids changes and of course weekly trips to get the gas tank filled. I originally bought the hybrid when gasoline was over $4 a gallon and the hybrid system was supposed to give about 30% better mileage according to the EPA MPG rating. For most of the years I owned it, especially the later years I got about 23-24 MPG which was more like 20% better mileage than a standard Highlander. I was never able to drive very long as an EV, at most a mile, since the Highlander is a 7 seat SUV, and the hybrid system was pretty much the same as in the much smaller Toyota Prius, only with 2 electric motors (front and rear). With more current, smaller plugin hybrids you can drive 20 miles or so on pure electric, but then it has to switch over to the gasoline engine. So even the plugin hybrid still has to use gas for more than a single short trip. The BMW I3 and Chevy Volt also use gas and electric, but the gasoline motor is just to boost the range of the electric motor. Better and able to drive on electric for longer trips, but still not able to go long distances without eventually using gasoline or stopping frequently to charge the battery pack.



© © Mark Dodel, 2016

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Vote the straight Democratic Ticket this November 3rd and stop the electoral cheating.

What a great time at our annual MCDC Banquet at the Shawnee Inn this past Saturday October 10th.  

We heard from all our county wide candidates and then Congressman Matt Cartwright energized us with his speech about how bad things are in the Capitol now and how much Pennsylvania needs to stop Gerrymandering in 2020 by getting our 3 Democratic candidates for PA Supreme Court.  While there are about a million more Democrats in Pennsylvania, Republicans have 13 of Pennsylvania's 18 US House seats.  And our guest speaker was Judge Christine Donohue, one of our three Democratic candidates for the PA Supreme Court who reiterated how important and historic this election is.  
It will be the PA Supreme Court who chooses the commission member who decides how the state will be redistricted.  This is the most important election in the entire nation this year.  If you have never voted in an non-Presidential election, this is the year to do it.  Vote the straight Democratic Ticket and stop the electoral cheating.  


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Don't think off year elections are important? This year's is for sure!

Folks, there is an election this year and we need people to VOTE. Yes it is not a Presidential year, but this election is important because it elects our local leaders and more importantly 3 State Supreme Court Justices. Ever wonder why the Democratic party out votes Republicans across PA in Congressional elections, yet there are only 5 Democrats of the 18 Congressional districts? It is because of Gerrymandering of Congressional and State legislative districts to keep them Republican. And re-districting, which is based on the decennial census, is by a committee made up by the leaders of the state legislature and someone appointed by the State Supreme Court. For at least the past 2 redistricting that has always been controlled by Republicans. It is critical that Democrats win the three Supreme Court seats this November or else in 2020 the Republicans will again make sure they control the state for the next decade. So don't wait until 2016, get involved this year and make sure you vote. We can't take back our state and our country unless we vote.

Remember Photo Voter ID?  The Republicans in the legislature certainly haven't forgotten and will do their best to suppress minority votes again next year.  President Trump or President Cruz sound good to you?  We need a Supreme Court that will uphold our right to vote.

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Corbett ads about his education cuts are fantasy!

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.  

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