EPLC Education Notebook
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
The Pennsylvania General Assembly settled the state budget impasse this week, adopting a $27.5 billion budget for FY 2007-2008 ( Act 8A) that includes all of the education initiatives proposed by Gov. Rendell. The final Conference Committee Report on the budget was approved on Monday in the Senate by a vote of 46-2 and in the House by a vote of 140-63.
In the Senate, Senator Eichelberger and Senator Folmer cast the only votes against the budget. Senators Stack and Waugh did not vote.
In the House, all Democrats except Representatives Buxton and Payton voted in favor of the budget. Forty Republicans, including Speaker Dennis O'Brien and Floor Leader Sam Smith, voted "Yes" and sixty-one voted "No."
Companion legislation that makes omnibus changes to the School Code, including formulas for the distribution of state funding ( House Bill 842), awaits the Governor's signature and will be reported on in detail in the next EPLC Education Notebook.
The 2007-08 budget increases funding for basic education funding by 3.5% ($166.7 million) to $4.951 billion, special education funding by 3.0% ($29.4 million) to $1.010 billion, and career and technical education funding by 3.0% ($1.834 million) to $62.961 million. All school districts also will receive a 2% inflationary increase in their Accountability Block Grants ($5 million has been earmarked to support this increase).
Among the major education initiatives proposed by Rendell, the budget dedicates $75 million to expand pre-K for an additional 11,000 children and provides $20 million to support full-day kindergarten ($15 million of which will go toward establishing or expanding programs for 7,600 more children and $5 million of which will be used to support current programs).
The Classrooms for the Future (high school laptop) initiative was fully funded at the Governor's requested level of $90 million, and will support 350 schools in 2007-08. An additional $7 million is available to train and support teachers in utilizing this technology in the classroom.
The budget also provides funding for new initiatives, including $6 million to increase school breakfast and lunch reimbursements for districts that adopt the state's nutritional guidelines, $1.000 million to assist districts in identifying cost savings through shared services, and $3.000 million for urban and minority teacher development.
Funding for some current programs also received a boost: Science It's Elementary - funded at $13.5 million (35% increase), to improve elementary level science instruction for more than 41,000 additional students in 70 school districts; Project 720 (high school reform) - funded at $11 million (38% increase), to help an additional 30 high schools increase academic rigor; and dual enrollment - funded at $10 million ($2 million increase), with half of the new funding dedicated to supporting low-income high school students.
The budget also includes $2.000 million to expand postsecondary education opportunities in areas that lack access to affordable higher education by creating Technical College Programs to provide workforce credentials and associate degrees in high-demand fields.
Other higher education sectors also saw increases. The State System of Higher Education received a 3.5% increase to $504.240 million, while funding for community colleges was boosted by 3.4% to $274.615 million. Funding for the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency rose by 0.07% to $451.968 million.
The budget also provides for a total of $75 million to support the Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program, a $16 million increase. Tax credits are available to business firms that make contributions to K-12 scholarship organizations ($44.66 million), educational improvement organizations ($22.33 million) and Pre-K scholarships ($8 million).
Additional details on the enacted 2007-2008 education budget are available from PDE at www.pdenewsroom.state.pa.us/newsroom/cwp/view.asp?a=256&q=124988.
Finally, the Governor also has signed the following appropriations for state-related universities and other education-related entities:
Act 10A (Senate Bill 929): Allocates $334.230 million to Penn State University.
Act 11A (Senate Bill 930): Allocates $168.169 million to the University of Pittsburgh.
Act 12A (Senate Bill 931): Allocates $172.917 million to Temple University.
Act 13A (Senate Bill 932): Allocates $13.786 million to Lincoln University.
Act 14A (Senate Bill 933): Allocates $7.002 million to Drexel University.
Act 15A (Senate Bill 934): Allocates $49.674 million to the University of Pennsylvania.
Act 16A (Senate Bill 935): Allocates $12.665 million to the Philadelphia Health and Education Corporation.
Act 17A (Senate Bill 936): Allocates $9.852 million to Thomas Jefferson University.
Act 18A (Senate Bill 937): Allocates $6.576 million to the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Act 19A (Senate Bill 938): Allocates $1.693 million to the Pennsylvania College of Optometry.
Act 20A (Senate Bill 939): Allocates $1.214 million to the University of the Arts, Philadelphia.
Act 21A (Senate Bill 940): Allocates $1.504 million to the Berean Training and Industrial School.
Act 22A (Senate Bill 941): Allocates $0.194 million to the Johnson Technical Institute of Scranton.
Act 23A (Senate Bill 942): Allocates $0.071 million to the Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades in Delaware County.
Act 24A (Senate Bill 943): Allocates $1.861 million to the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Information about the Pennsylvania General Assembly, including details on contacting your local state representatives and locating bills cited in this Notebook, is available at www.legis.state.pa.us/index.cfm.