Last week Pennsylvania quickly passed a budget, SB 255. The text can be found here. Our state Sen. John Kane voted for it but Rep. Leanne Krueger voted against it. Gov. Wolf and others have championed the additional $300 million included in the state’s budget for K-12 education. The budget includes a further $50 million increase for special education funding. The total state spending on K-12 education, however is over $13 billion dollars. According to my quick calculations that amounts to a less than 3% increase in the state’s K-12 education spending. For our district, the situation is probably even worse. As we are not a low income district, little of that funding increase will come to WSSD since Democrats successfully pushed for the money to be spent in districts that need it most. In the WSSD’s budget approved last week, expenses for the district – largely driven by staff benefits, pensions and pay, rose by over 4%.
So even with the much hailed big headline number of $300 million dollars, Pennsylvania is contributing a smaller percentage of our children’s education next year. They are slowly defunding education. Pennsylvania is already near the bottom in education funding, and despite Gov. Wolf’s spin, every year’s budget is making that worse. Pennsylvania is so bad that a lawsuit against it filed in 2014 is finally getting its day in court. What makes this even more egregious is that the state is socking away most of the $7 billion the federal government granted instead of spending it on schools to help in the recovery from Covid.
As usual, Rep. Krueger is on the right side of this one – this budget could and should have done much more for our community and our neighboring communities. As another example of the desperate need, the neighboring Chester-Upland narrowly avoided a takeover by charter schools last week.
While looking at actions at the state level, the Pennsylvania Senate also moved forward in June to block Gov. Wolf’s efforts to join RGGI, the region’s leading effort to combat climate change. This is Pennsylvania’s best chance at reducing carbon emissions – at the township EAC we regularly hear about RGGI’s progress. Unfortunately, Sen. Kane voted with Republicans to block Gov. Wolf’s administration from joining RGGI without legislative approval (which is unlikely due to gerrymandering). The bill has now moved to the state house for further consideration.