(Jul 14) Pa. budget deal with education funding boost hinged on compromise, avoiding controversy

From Keystone Crossroads

The dust has settled on the 2016-17 Pennsylvania budget, and, as usual, debates over education funding and policy dominated much of the negotiations.

Last year this time, Democrats and Republicans were still miles apart on budget talks, and it took until March to come to resolution.

This year, a final deal was hashed out a mere 13 days late.

So how, in sharply divided government, do you get a deal done — almost on time?

By compromising, and punting on the most controversial elements.

“We made marginal gains this year, but it’s progress nonetheless,” said Sen. Vincent Hughes, D-Philadelphia, minority chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “We don’t seem to have the capacity to address major issues and come up with very significant solutions. We’re inching along.”

Gov. Tom Wolf had initially sought a $577 million boost to the state’s main pot of public school cash this year, but he was willing to settle for $200 million to avoid another fight over proposals to hike sales or income taxes.

In the end, boosts were also made to special education ($20 million), early-childhood education ($30 million) and higher education ($40 million).

Full story: Pa. budget deal with education funding boost hinged on compromise, avoiding controversy, Keystone Crossroads, 07/14/16

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