With tax collections running 2.2 percent ahead of last year, officials of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge's administration will today announce initiatives that should erase the image some have of the governor as a pro-business leader who doesn't care about the poor. We suggest they proceed cautiously on new programs, which are easier to create that to cut back when money is tight.
For example, education spending would increase by $100 million, with $90 million going to the state's poorest school districts, which have long been fighting for just such a windfall. Even in a recession, cutting back anything from that amount would be portrayed as a heartless or even a racist move, even if it were a financial necessity.
Ridge's aides have a better idea for the remaining $10 million. They would distribute it based on performance, with cash coming to schools with good attendance rates, improved test scores and falling dropout rates. The idea, officials say, is to reward good performance instead of penalizing mistakes.