2020-21 State Budget
On May 29, 2020, Gov. Tom Wolf signed the General Fund budget for Fiscal Year 2020-21, well ahead of the June 30 deadline. The budget is an interim spending plan that provides five months of funding for most state agencies and services but contains full-year funding for education.
The budget provides level funding for the basic education subsidy at $6.74 billion and the special education subsidy at $1.186 billion. The Ready to Learn Block Grant remains at $268 million, career and technical education at $99 million, and $5.5 million for career and technical education grants. Pupil transportation is being funded at $612 million, and while this may appear to be a reduction, a supplemental appropriation for the 2019-20 fiscal year brought the allocation in line with costs and now represents level funding.
The budget also provides a significant boost to schools for school safety and mental health initiatives. A combined $215 million is allocated for School Health and Safety Grants under different bills, with the bulk of the funding coming from the $2.6 billion that Pennsylvania received under the federal CARES Act. The funding provided to school districts can be used for a variety of needs ranging from sanitizing products, personal protective equipment, staff training, modification of areas in buildings, providing mental health services and supports for students, purchasing education technology and other programs, items or services necessary to address the COVID-19 disaster emergency.
In addition, the state Fiscal Code authorizes the transfer of up to $300 million in funding from the CARES Act to the state Property Tax Relief Fund (under Act 1 of 2006), which is normally funded by state gaming revenues, enabling the state to restore up to $621 million to provide property tax relief to homestead and farmstead properties.
PSBA supports the budget passed by the General Assembly because it provides subsidies for the full fiscal year with no cuts, enabling school districts to move forward with the needed certainty from the state on matters of funding so they can plan appropriately at the local level.