The Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) is pleased with the prioritization of the commonwealth’s public schools and students as outlined in Governor Tom Wolf’s eighth and final budget address. Further cementing his legacy of support for public education, the Governor’s proposed budget continues to make much needed investments in public education.
Entering this budget cycle, Pennsylvania’s revenue collections far exceeded estimates, state reserves are strong and there are still federal pandemic funds remaining from prior years. PSBA supports the use of some of these funds to provide for the proposed increases to public education.
The proposed budget would include the largest increase in history for basic education funding (BEF) which would help to ease the burden on local taxpayers caused by mandated pension and charter school tuition costs. Those two mandatory costs alone have increased by nearly $4.4 billion over the last 10 years.
The proposed budget also allocates much needed additional state dollars to help cover mandatory special education programs and services.
This proposed increase in special education funding marks a move in the right direction. In 2008-2009, state funding for special education represented 34% of the special education expenses incurred by public schools. By 2019-20, that percentage had dropped to less than 22%.
PSBA looks forward to working with the administration and the General Assembly towards passage of a state budget, and on issues affecting public education, with particular focus on increased investments in special education and enacting meaningful charter school funding reform.