July 17, 2016

Bipartisan state budget invests in schools

State legislators came together in mid-July to complete the state budget process, passing legislation authorizing the tax revenues to pay for the budget and the instructions for how to spend it.

On June 30, lawmakers put a final state budget on Gov. Tom Wolf's desk, which he allowed to go into law without his signature at midnight on July 12 to avoid the crisis and chaos that accompanied last year's nine-month-long budget standoff.

The $31.6 billion budget bill passed with bipartisan support, without increases in personal income or sales taxes, but with significant increases in basic and special education funding that our schools and students desperately need. On July 13, the General Assembly approved a bill with $1.3 billion in additional state revenues, enough to close this year's budget gap and fully fund the budget.

Increased investments in our schools

The budget includes a $200 million increase in basic education funding, a $19 million increase for special education, and a $30 million increase for Pre-K Counts and Head Start. Ready to Learn block grant funding remains at the current year level of $242 million.

The budget also includes a nearly $39 million increase for higher education.

The General Assembly 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 included in this year's budget will help to get districts closer to the funding levels schools need and students deserve.





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