House Moves 2017-18 State Budget Proposal
Efforts to approve a 2017-18 state budget are underway as the House of Representatives passed a new spending plan crafted by Republican leadership. On April 4, 2017, House Bill 218 (Rep. Saylor, R-York) was approved with a party-line vote of 114 -84. While it is not the final budget, it sets the stage for debate with Republicans and Democrats in House and Senate chambers, and negotiation with the administration.
The $31.5 billion budget provides $800 million less than the $32.3 billion spending plan proposed by Gov. Tom Wolf in February, and $245 less than the current 2016-17 budget. There are no new taxes proposed under the plan adopted by the House, although this budget will need about $790 million in new revenue to be balanced.
House Bill 218 is intended as a starting point for House Republican leaders to outline their priorities to achieve a sustainable budget. Additional details on their plan budget and where savings and new revenue will come from will be part of ongoing discussions as the plan moves to the Senate. The deadline for the adoption of a final state budget is June 30 as the new fiscal year begins on July 1. PSBA will continue to provide updates as the process continues.
Key education appropriations under House Bill 218 include:
Line items matching the governor’s proposal
- Basic Education Subsidy — The bill retains the $100 million increase for a total of $5.99 billion for this line item.
- Special Education — The plan maintains the increase of $25 million for special education, totaling $1.12 billion.
- Pupil Transportation — The $50 million cut for pupil transportation proposed by the governor is also included in the House budget, presumably along with recommendations to update the state reimbursement formula.
- Ready to Learn Block Grant — The House budget contains level funding of $250 million for the program.
- Career and Technical Education — The line item is level funded at $62 million.
- School Construction (PlanCon) — The line item for the Authority Rentals and Sinking Fund used for reimbursement to schools for approved construction projects is set at $29.7 million. This includes about $19 million for ongoing reimbursements and $10 million for lease payments.
- Mobile Science and Math Education Programs — The governor had proposed eliminating all funding for the existing $2.2 million program, and the House budget also terminates money for the line item.
- School Employees’ Social Security — The budget includes an increase of $37.4 million (7.60%) for a program total of $529.5 million.
Line items that are reductions from Gov. Wolf’s proposal
- School Employees’ Retirement — The House budget contains a $20 million cut for pensions from the governor’s proposal. The governor’s plan provided a $240 million increase to $2.3 billion for pensions, while the House bill sets retirement allocations at $2.28 billion. The budget document does not indicate how pension obligations would be met with the reduction in the line item.
- State Assessment – Funding for state and federal testing programs, including the Keystone Exams and PSSAs, is reduced to $50.4 million. The governor proposed level funding for the line item at $58 million.
- Early Childhood Education — The line item for Pre-K Counts provides for a smaller increase for early childhood education programs with funding set at $167.2 million, which is a $20 million increase. The governor proposed an increase of $65 million. Funding for the Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program is allocated at $54.1 million. This is a $5 million reduction from the $59 million under Wolf’s budget.
- Teacher Professional Development – The budget eliminates all funding for teacher professional development. The governor had proposed level funding at $6.45 million.
- Career and Technical Education Equipment Grants — The House budget sets funding for the grants at $2.55 The governor proposed level funding for the line item at $3 million.
EITC & OSTC Increases — In addition, the House budget adds $75 million for increases to the to the existing Education Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) programs. Legislation passed by the House in early March (House Bill 220), contained a $75 million increase for these programs. Under that bill, a $50 million increase (from $125 million to $175 million) was targeted to the EITC and $25 million (from $50 million to $75 million) for the OSTC programs.