Wolf Proposes Historic Education Budget
With a $6 billion surplus, we have a few months to reverse the course of historic inequity
Gov. Tom Wolf delivered his last annual budget address this week, calling for historic investments in education, along with bolstering workforce development, criminal justice reform and raising the minimum wage.
The plan has the potential to reverse generations of systemic inequity in education funding and comes with no increase in taxes.
Pennsylvania ranks 45th among states in supporting education and in the bottom ten for equality of opportunity among students in different districts. This inequality is well known in Philadelphia where science classes lack running water while lead and asbestos remain dangers to student, teacher and staff health. But it is also true across the commonwealth where neighboring districts have wide disparities in school infrastructure and course offerings.
The governor’s proposals for education includes a $1.25 billion increase in basic education, $200 million in special education, $60 million in Pre-K Counts and $10 million for Head Start Supplemental Assistance, $300 in Level Up funding to 100 school districts with the highest needs, and $77.7 million in federal funds to make childcare more affordable. Proposed investments of more $180 million across higher education programs and a total of $200 million for Nellie Bly scholarships to help PASSHE and community college students afford the cost of higher education.
This sweeping proposal could mean significant new support for students from toddlerhood to college graduation.
The deadline for passing the budget is June 30. Between now and then we must make our voices heard and let Harrisburg know that quality schools and equal opportunity for all children is a moral obligation, not a fantasy.