State House and Senate pass 2016-17 budget bills that increase school funding
Note: Updated June 30, 2016. Find updates here.
This week, the House and Senate each passed their own versions of a 2016-17 state spending plan. Both budget bills include a $200 million increase in basic education funding and a $20 million increase for special education. Ready to Learn block grant funding remains at the current year level of $242 million.
The Senate bill includes a nearly $39 million increase for higher education.
The House Appropriations Committee released details about the distribution of Basic Education, Special Education, and Ready to Learn block grant funding to school districts, based on the new school funding formula signed into law by Gov. Wolf this year.
Find out how these changes affect your school district here.
A positive step forward
While school districts continue to struggle with rising class sizes, furloughs, and program cuts, the school funding increases passed by the House and Senate will help to get districts closer to the funding levels schools need and students deserve.
What comes next
The Senate-passed bill now goes back to the House for consideration, where House leaders can vote to concur on the Senate's changes, reject them, or add additional amendments and send the bill back to the Senate. Gov. Tom Wolf has also said that the plan needs some changes in order to be balanced.
The current plan relies on increases in cigarette and other tobacco taxes as well as revenue from gambling expansion, liquor modernization, and a tax amnesty program.
The overall tone of the budget negotiations has been much more positive than this time last year. Gov. Wolf and legislative leaders are optimistic about completing a final budget soon.