EPLC Education Notebook

Monday, July 13, 2009

    Content in this edition:
    State Budget Process Continues
    Pennsylvania Policymakers
    - State House
    - State Board of Education
    - Legislative Budget and Finance Committee
    EPLC News – Education Policy Fellowship Program

    The EPLC Education Notebook (current and past editions) also is available by visiting the EPLC website at www.eplc.org/ednotebook.html.



    State House

    Later today (July 13), the House Appropriations Committee will likely meet with the intention of House Democratic leaders to have the majority Democrats move forward Senate Bill 850, a bill they very much dislike.  The plan, if Democrats stick together in Committee and on the House floor, is to pass and send to the Governor SB850 as it passed the Senate several weeks ago.  Because that legislation spends more than is estimated to be available, the Governor would have to use his veto power to make even additional cuts in what is considered rather draconian legislation.  Those cuts combined with the insufficient funding already represented by SB850 for education and other programs would make even more obvious to many the need for new revenues in order to eventually pass a responsible and sufficient budget.  That’s the plan!

    But House Republicans don’t intend to allow Democrats to have their way.  House Republicans have announced a major amendment they will offer to SB850.  They also have announced support for several revenue sources that they say would ensure a balanced SB850 that would require no line-item vetoes by the Governor. 

    The Administration has quickly challenged some of the assumptions of the revenue sources suggested by republicans, and also pointed out that much of the additional revenue identified to balance the House Republican budget proposal is at best a one-time resource, therefore only pushing off to next year more tough decisions on budget and taxes.  This Republican budget also continues the Senate’s proposal to cut state funding for public education and abandon the six-year plan for school funding reform.



  • The Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign asks that every person who cares about state budget issues relating to public education and children get involved.

    Take action today.  Contact your legislators.  Ask them to put the needs of children first in enacting a new state budget by continuing to implement the new school funding formula – even if it requires a state tax increase to do so.

    For more information on the Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign, please visit www.paschoolfunding.org.

  • Concerned citizens joined the Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign at the State Capitol on Tuesday, July 7 to tell legislators that maintaining a commitment to the state’s new education funding formula is non-negotiable with their constituents – even if it requires legislators to increase revenues – and urge legislators to support a balanced approach to the state budget that includes a $418 million increase for basic education.  Click here to read a statement from the Campaign about last week’s budget watch to protect education funding.  And, click here to watch video footage of EPLC President Ron Cowell and the Pennsylvania PTA’s Anita Weikel addressing the crowd at the budget watch.

  • Last week, Gov. Ed Rendell joined with local officials in nine counties across Pennsylvania to discuss education funding issues in the state budget.  Click here to watch video coverage of Rendell’s visit to the Bermudian Springs School District in Adams County where local officials described the negative impact the Senate's proposed budget would have on the district and why the state needs to stay committed to its new education funding formula.

  • Earlier today, education and children’s advocates from across the state joined Governor Rendell for a press conference in Harrisburg again emphasizing how devastating are the funding cuts proposed by SB850, and even more by the recently announce amendment to SB850 that has been proposed by House Republican leadership.



    State House

    The House Rules Committee passed the following legislation last week:

    House Bill 1148: Requires PDE to collaborate with advisory health councils to develop and publish guidelines for managing life-threatening food allergies in schools.  The guidelines must assist school districts with: understanding the scope of the problem; detailed policies and protocols to prevent allergic reaction emergencies; systemic planning and multi-disciplinary teaching approaches; staff training; parental responsibilities; and emergency response protocols.  School districts may submit their food allergy management policy to PDE to be included in the clearinghouse of wellness policies and information regarding child health, nutrition and physical education.  This information will be made available on the Department’s website.  HB 1148 has been re-referred to the House Appropriations Committee.

    House Bill 1659: Requires full transfer of an Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degree between the state’s community colleges and state system of higher education (PASSHE) universities by December 31, 2011 that would allow students to transfer with full junior standing.  Independent colleges and universities and State-related universities could choose to participate in the degree transfer system.  HB 1659 has been re-referred to the House Appropriations Committee.

    House Bill 1615: Makes summer pre-Kindergarten programs for three- and four-year olds eligible for the Education Improvement Tax Credit (EITC).  HB 1615 has been re-referred to the House Appropriations Committee.

    State Board of Education

    Pennsylvania State Board of Education Chairman Joe Torsella last week announced a compromise on Keystone Exams, a proposal by Gov. Rendell to create voluntary, end-of-course exams for high schools.  Click here for details on the compromise.  The plan apparently represents an agreement between PDE, the State Board of Education, at least some members of the legislature, and several statewide education organizations.  The Senate Education Committee this week will hold a hearing on the compromise plan.  EPLC will provide additional detail following that hearing.

    Legislative Budget and Finance Committee

  • The Legislative Budget and Finance Committee (LBFC) last week released a report on Afterschool Programs in Pennsylvania.  The report was required by House Resolution 824 of 2008 to look at the afterschool needs of children and youth in Pennsylvania and assess current afterschool opportunities in terms of availability, types, and geographical gaps in affordable and accessible programs, as well as the cost per child to provide different types of high-quality programs and the extent to which public and private funding is available to support afterschool programs.  Click here to read the report.

  • The LBFC also released a preliminary report on Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program (EITC).  Senate Resolution 20 of 2009 directs the LBFC to review the impact of effectiveness of 18 Pennsylvania tax credit programs.  As part of that review, which is due in March 2010, the LBFC put forth preliminary information on the four tax credit programs with the greatest fiscal impact, which includes the EITC.  Click here to read the preliminary EITC report.



    Last week, the Pennsylvania Senate confirmed the reappointment of Kenneth Jarin to the Board of Governors of the State System of Higher Education.  His term will expire on December 31, 2012.



    Applications are being accepted for the 2009-2010 Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP).  The Education Policy Fellowship Program is sponsored in Pennsylvania by The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC).  Click on http://www.eplc.org/fellows.html for complete details.

    The Fellowship Program begins with a two-day retreat on September 10-11, 2009 and continues through June 2010.  Space is limited to approximately 30 positions, so it is advisable to submit an application as soon as possible.  The application may be downloaded online, but must be submitted by mail with the necessary signatures of applicant and sponsor.

    If you would like to discuss any aspect of the Fellowship Program and its requirements, please contact Ron Cowell at 717-260-9900 or cowell@eplc.org.



    This week…

  • The House Appropriations Committee plans to consider a state budget bill on Monday.

  • The Senate Education Committee holds a public hearing on the Keystone Exams Compromise on Tuesday.

  • The House State Government Committee meets to consider House Bill 1821 on Tuesday.

  • For information on these and other upcoming events, see www.eplc.org/calendar.html.

EPLC Education Notebook is published by The Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC). Permission to reprint or electronically redistribute the Notebook in whole or in part is granted provided attribution to EPLC is provided.

The Education Policy and Leadership Center is an independent, non-partisan and not-for-profit organization. The Mission of EPLC is to encourage and support the enactment and implementation of effective state-level education policies in order to improve student learning in grades P-12, increase the effective operation of schools, and enhance educational opportunities for citizens of all ages.

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