Change is not easy in Pennsylvania politics

Originally Posted June 18, 2024

Gerrymandered districts remove accountability and diminish representation. That makes it possible for just a few leaders to control the process, catering to their largest donors and ignoring concerns from every corner of PA. We’ve seen that this summer of 2023 as school districts, county operations, and many public and non-profit agencies scrambled to cover deficits and potential cuts caused by yet another budget impasse.

Some of our earliest Fair Districts PA supporters were former PA legislators—from both major parties—who saw a tight connection between gerrymandered districts, legislative rules that put too much power in the hands of a few leaders, and their own inability to fulfill campaign promises. Many had fair school funding at the top of their list of blocked priorities.

In 2016, the year Fair Districts Pennsylvania started, Representative David Parker of Monroe County introduced the first House bill Fair Districts PA supported. He was tireless in explaining the harm done to his community by inadequate representation and inequitable school funding. Seven years ago this month, he and FDPA leader Carol Kuniholm gave testimony at a House State Government Committee meeting in support of redistricting reform. Earlier that year, he spoke on the House floor in the midst of a historic impasse, asking his colleagues to take politics out of school funding and to move toward funding schools fairly.

  • Despite a Commonwealth Court decision finding PA’s school funding unconstitutional, the new state budget provides just a fraction of the increase that plaintiffs in that case recommended.
  • Despite strong support from legislators in both chambers and both parties, despite over 100,000 petition signatures from every corner of the state, PA’s redistricting process still allows PA legislative leaders to draw their own district lines and choose their own voters.
  • Despite public pressure for better legislative rules, House rules are only slightly improved and Senate rules are unchanged.

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