BLOG: We Must Pave The Way For Our Children’s Future
By: Megan Healey, Deputy Press Secretary
February 10, 2016
Pennsylvania is at a critical crossroads. We can fund our schools and fix our deficit or we will be faced with an additional $1 billion in cuts to our schools.
FAILURE TO ACT
It is time for the legislature to recognize the fiscal problem facing Pennsylvania and work with Governor Wolf to honestly eliminate the deficit. A failure to acknowledge our fiscal crisis will result in an additional $1 billion cut to education:
Here are just a few of the potential consequences:
In all, more than 23,000 education professionals, including guidance counselors, could be forced out of Pennsylvania schools.
Already crowded class sizes will balloon by 30 percent to account for all those teacher layoffs. Worse, classroom swelling will be more severe in the schools that can least afford it.
Technical education programs, special education programs, and Head Start programs will all be cut.
Tens of thousands of Pennsylvania children will lose access to pre-kindergarten, depriving them of early childhood education that we know is key to their future success.
A RESPONSIBLE PATH FORWARD
We can choose to avoid all of this pain, and makes smart investments in programs that combat some of Pennsylvania’s biggest social crises. Governor Wolf has presented a responsible path forward that will eliminate our deficit and fund our schools.
Significant Investments in Education
- A $200 million (3.3 percent) increase in the Basic Education Subsidy. This increase, above the assumed $377 million increase in 2015-16, will be distributed using the Fair Funding Formula created and unanimously adopted by the bipartisan Basic Education Funding Commission in June 2015.
- A $50 million (4.6 percent) increase in the Special Education Subsidy. This increase, in addition to the assumed $50 million increase in 2015-16, will continue Pennsylvania’s transition to the funding formula enacted in 2015.
- A $60 million (30.5 percent) increase in high-quality early childhood education. This builds upon the $60 million investment in 2015-16 to enroll about 14,000 additional children in Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts and the Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program. Currently, only 30 percent of Pennsylvania children in families earning up to three times the federal poverty level are enrolled in high quality pre-k programs.
Building a Bridge from High School to College and Careers
Over the next decade, Pennsylvania will seek to make a college degree or high-value industry-recognized certification available to at least 650,000 additional commonwealth residents.
This budget invests in programs that continue to modernize Career and Technical Education:
- Career and Technical Education: $15 million in additional support for the establishment and expansion of high-quality CTE programs to prepare students for success in today’s economy.
- Career and Technical Education Equipment Grants: $5 million for CTE equipment grants to support updating or purchasing new equipment used in the training of students.
- Career Counselors: $8 million to help school districts offer college and career counseling in middle and high schools to develop pathways to higher education and high-skill careers.
Reinvesting in Pennsylvania’s Institutions of Higher Learning
Finally, the governor’s budget makes investments in our colleges and universities, to ensure post-secondary education is both high-quality and affordable:
- Community Colleges: $22.1 million increase for Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges to achieve the degree, certificate or certification goals.
- PASSHE: $42.3 million increase for the 14 universities that are part of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.
- State-Related Universities: $59.7 million increase for Penn State University, the University of Pittsburgh, Temple University and Lincoln University. These resources will encourage innovation by helping these institutions translate research into job creation.
Governor Wolf still believes in a bright future for Pennsylvania, but he can’t go at it alone. His 2016-17 Budget is a renewed promise to the voters who elected him to take the responsible path forward — eliminating the deficit and making our schools whole once again.
Read more posts about Governor Wolf’s 2016-17 budget.
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