EPLC Education Notebook
Friday, October 9, 2009
Content in this edition:
The EPLC Education Notebook (current and past editions) also is available by visiting the EPLC website at www.eplc.org/ednotebook.html.
STATE BUDGET – DONE!
This afternoon, more than 100 days late, the Pennsylvania state budget is practically complete. The Senate has passed a budget (spending) bill previously approved by the House, and it has been sent to the Governor. A key revenue bill has already been sent to Governor Rendell. An important Fiscal Code bill is expected to be finalized today also.
The budget is balanced using a lot of federal stimulus funding as well as non-recurring state revenue, including $755 million to be transferred from the Rainy Day Fund.
It is a mixed picture for basic education. The good news is that there will be a $300 million increase in funding for basic education subsidy to school districts. This is made possible by the use of $654 million in federal stimulus stabilization funds, offsetting a decrease of $354 million in state funds for this very important appropriation. This $300 million increase will be distributed using the state’s new basic education subsidy formula, slightly tweaked from the formula first used last year, and following suggestions supported by the Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign.
The bad news is that several other appropriations that also resulted in funding for school districts last year have been cut or eliminated. These cuts total more than $100 million.
There also are other cuts affecting education-related activities. The Earned Income Tax Credit which supports Private School Scholarship Organizations, Public School Improvement Organizations, and Pre-K Programs will be cut this year by 20% and even more in 2010-2011. State support for the Pennsylvania Public Television Network, museums and libraries, and the Pennsylvania Arts Council is also cut substantially. There are slight cuts affecting higher education including the PHEAA grant program. The proposed tax on various live performances affecting many arts programs was withdrawn.
Our friends at Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children report that “On the whole, children’s programs avoided damaging cuts. In some instances, investments for children’s programs actually increased.” Analysis will be available soon.
EPLC will provide additional budget details and analysis in a special edition of Education Notebook.
On Monday, the House Education Committee held an informational meeting on the revised Chapter 4 regulations (Keystone Exams proposal). State Board of Education Chairman Joseph Torsella was present to hear legislators’ concerns and comments and to answer questions. For more information, contact Chris Wakeley, Executive Director of the House Education Committee, at 717-787-7044. The Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) is set to consider the final regulations at its October 22nd meeting in Harrisburg.
Teacher quality and equity was the focus of a hearing held last week by the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor. The purpose of the hearing was to get an update on the progress states and school districts are making toward ensuring that every student is taught by an effective teacher. Under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) states and school districts are required to address teacher inequities so that low-income and minority students are not taught by inexperienced or unqualified teachers at higher rates than other children. For more information on the hearing and to read the testimony presented to Congress, click here.
For information on these and other upcoming events, see www.eplc.org/calendar.html.