Talking Points

2015-2016 State Budget: Governor Wolf’s Proposed Budget on Education
  • Education funding would be restored by $1 billion in 2015-16 through increased state funding and cost-saving reforms. This funding restoration is separate from the state share of pensions, which would be paid for by its own revenue account.
  • This budget would be the first phase of a four-year plan to increase pre-K-12 funding by $2 billion and return the state’s share of education funding to 50%, which it hasn’t been in 40 years. Raising the state’s share to 50% depends on property tax relief, which would not start until the 2016-17 school year. The state’s current funding share of 35% is one of the lowest in the country. A low state share of education funding shifts the tax burden onto local homeowners and results in funding inequalities between poorer and wealthier districts.
  • The state would return to using a basic education funding formula, starting in 2016-17, to ensure funding for all school districts is adequate, equitable, predictable, and accountable. Currently, Pennsylvania is one of only three states without a formula.
  • Basic education funding would be increased by $400 million (7%), and would consolidate the Basic Education Funding subsidy, Accountability Block Grant, Ready to Learn Block Grant, Educational Assistance Program, and Charter Reimbursements.
    • The Accountability Block Grant –which helps provide funding for proven, effective academic programs –and Educational Assistance Program funds would be fully restored after enduring previous cuts.
    • School districts would receive a partial restoration of charter reimbursements after having them completely cut since 2010-11. Whereas before, school districts received a 30% reimbursement of their mandatory charter tuition payments, now they would receive about a 10% reimbursement.
  • Special education funding would be increased by $100 million (10%), and the formula enacted in 2014 would continue being used.
  • Cyber charter school reform that would cap funding would save school districts $162 million.
  • Early childhood education funding would be increased by $120 million (88%), with $100 million going to Pre-K Counts and $20 million going to the Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program, both aimed at helping low-income children. This would result in the enrollment of more than 14,000 additional children. Recent years have seen funding for these programs remain largely flat, learning the state a D+ grade and a ranking of 41st in the nation for early childhood education.
  • Higher education funding would increase by $159 million (10%) but remain below pre-recession levels:
    • Funding for the 14 “state-owned” Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) schools would increase by $45 million (11%), restoring about half the 2011-12 cuts.
    • State-related universities would all see funding increases. Penn State would receive about $51 million (22%) more, and the University of Pittsburgh and Temple would both receive about $15 million (11%) more. This $80+ million total is half of the 2010-11 cuts.
    • Community colleges would receive $15 million (7%) more, three quarters of the 2010-11 cuts.
  • General Fund support for the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) would increase by $16 million (4%), and PHEAA programs supported by “Other Funds” would increase by $25.5 million. The major PHEAA increases are:
    • $7.5 million for the STEM Scholarship Initiative, to help students pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math fields
    • A tripling from $5 million to $15 million in funding for Ready to Succeed Scholarships for middle-class students with good grades
    • $9 million for dual enrollment through which high school students earn college credit

Information provided by the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center (PBPC)

Presented here by the Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign, an unprecedented coalition of more than 30 statewide and regional education and advocacy organizations representing hundreds of thousands of parents, students, educators, school board members, administrators, and other concerned citizens advocating for adequate and equitable funding of Pennsylvania’s public schools.  For additional information, please go to www.paschoolfunding.org or contact The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC) at 717-260-9900.

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