EPLC Education Notebook

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

    FY 2007-2008 State Budget

    The Pennsylvania General Assembly continues to negotiate a final FY 2007-08 state budget, now three days into the new fiscal year. On Saturday (June 30), the House rejected the Senate-passed spending plan (as amended into House Bill 1286) by a vote of 96-102. Today, with token attendance, the Senate voted to insist on its version of the budget, thereby triggering the need for a House-Senate conference committee to hash out a final budget deal.

    Of course, the Governor's Office is central to any real negotiating that occurs on the budget and related issues. One of the sticking points in resolving the budget is that Governor Rendell insists that the General Assembly address other priorities of the Governor such as transportation funding, energy and health care before he will agree to sign a budget. While a transportation funding package seems close to agreement, a deal on the Governor's energy proposal seems most elusive.

    Adding to the thickening plot, the Governor this afternoon announced that furlough notices were being sent to more than 25,000 "non-essential" state employees announcing a shutdown of work early next week. This would necessitate a shutdown of the state's new casinos, thus causing a temporary suspension of activity that actually makes money for the state and local governments.

    About $300 million separates the Senate-passed budget from that approved by the House (and largely reflecting the Governor's budget proposal). Debate surrounding the education budget has focused on Governor Rendell's proposals to invest $75 million in pre-K education and expanding funding for laptop technology in high schools. The Senate also removed funding for Rendell initiatives related to technical colleges, shared services, school food services, and elementary level science instruction, as well as reducing funding for programs related to dual enrollment and high school reform.

    While negotiations are expected to continue tonight and on Wednesday, the House and Senate are expected to reconvene at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday.

    For more information about the budget, see EPLC's Education Policy Information Clearinghouse.

    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.

    Tentative Contract Averts PASSHE Strike

    A strike has been averted at Pennsylvania's fourteen state system universities with today's announcement of a tentative contract agreement between the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) and the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF). The universities that are affected by the agreement are Millersville, Shippensburg, Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Slippery Rock and West Chester.

    Universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education provide more than 250 degree and certificate programs in more than 120 areas of study. A total of 109,088 undergraduate and graduate, part-time and full-time, students attend PASSHE universities.

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