Governor Wolf, Advocates Praise Fair Funding Formula, Call for Budget to Fund It

June 03, 2016

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today joined members of the General Assembly and education advocates to praise the enactment of a permanent fair funding formula for Pennsylvania schools. He also echoed his call for the upcoming budget to include the additional funding necessary to flow through the formula to begin restoring equity.

“What the Basic Education Funding Commission did was important and while Pennsylvania is no longer one of the only states without a fair funding formula, our commonwealth’s schools remain the most inequitable in the nation,” Governor Wolf said. “The formula only works if we begin to give school districts additional funding to restore the fairness in our school funding distribution.

“We saw bipartisan support for this new formula lead to its final passage and our students deserve the same effort towards finishing the job: balancing the budget, fixing the deficit and further investing in education at all levels.”

Governor Wolf was joined by bipartisan legislators, including Sens. Lloyd Smucker and Rob Teplitz and Reps. Mike Vereb, Mike Sturla, Jamie Santora and Mike Carroll, and advocacy organizations, including Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials, The Pennsylvania Association for Rural and Small Schools, Education Voters of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania School Boards Association, Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators, and Pennsylvania State Education Association.

“By enacting this fair funding formula, the General Assembly and Governor Wolf have demonstrated true bipartisanship and shown what can be achieved when we work together for Pennsylvania’s students,” said Joan Benso, president and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children and chair of the Campaign for Fair Education Funding. “We thank them for their leadership and trust they will tap into that same spirit to ensure this year’s state budget includes increased basic education funds and uses the new formula to distribute those funds and all future funding increases.”

Act 35 establishes a fair, equitable formula for allocating new state funds to Pennsylvania schools.

The Basic Education Funding (BEF) Formula accounts for district based factors including the wealth of the district, the district’s current tax effort, and the ability of the district to raise revenue. It also includes student-¬based factors like:

  • Number of children in the district who live in poverty,
  • Number of children enrolled in charter schools, and
  • Number of children who are English language learners.

The BEF Formula was created and unanimously adopted by the bipartisan Basic Education Funding Commission in June 2015. Having a formula in place will assure school districts that new funding will be distributed equitably and investments in education will no longer be determined by the influence of one legislator over another.

“The new Basic Education Funding Formula is, in a single word, about fairness,” said Rep. Mike Vereb. “We worked to establish fairness so that students in every area of Pennsylvania have access to a quality education. We know tax dollars are a limited resource and our responsibility is to find the best way to use those available dollars, and now, schools in Montgomery County and everywhere else across the Commonwealth will receive their fair share of funding.”

“As a member of the Basic Education Funding Commission, I am glad to see this effort moving forward,” Rep. Mike Sturla said. “We’ve set good ground work and are making a big first step. While politically, this is the best compromise we could reach at this time, I still believe we have work to do to restore funding and move towards equity statewide. This is a great foundation that we can build on to fulfill our constitutional obligation to provide all Pennsylvania children with a quality education. “

“This carefully developed funding formula provides a foundation upon which every school district can build and every taxpayer can rely for predictable and equitable state support for Pennsylvania’s schools,” said Sen. Lloyd Smucker. “It removes the mystery and built-in inequities in the prior system of dividing state dollars and replaces it with a data-driven computation based on enrollment and the true cost of educating a child.”

Rob Teplitz said “As a proud member of the Basic Education Funding Commission, I’m pleased that this measure will provide equitable funding for the state’s 500 school districts.”

Governor Wolf is seeking additional education funding in the 2016-17 budget, which would be distributed using the new BEF Formula. The 2015-16 budget included a $200 million increase in Basic Education Funding that will be distributed using the Fair Funding Formula.

This increase, along with the new funding formula, will continue to restore Pennsylvania schools from the deep cuts of 2011. This will also help to ensure that all students are getting equitable access to a quality public education.

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