The Pennsylvania Constitution requires the state to pass a budget by June 30th each year. This year, the budget came in just under the wire and was signed into law in time to start the new fiscal year. The $34 billion budget is a nearly 4 percent increase from last year’s $32.7 billion budget with no increases in sales or income tax rates.
Here are some of the key highlights of the budget as they relate to education:
- This budget provides $160 million more for basic education for a total of $6.2 billion.
- $50 million more is allocated for special education.
- Early intervention programs will see a $15 million increase.
- An additional $7 million is provided for career and technical schools and $3 million more is allocated for related equipment grants.
- $60 million for school security grants.
- The four state-related universities, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, and community colleges will see a 2 percent increase for a total of $1.3 billion.
PMEA had advocated for an increase of $225 million in the state’s basic education subsidy. While the budget did not meet that target, we are thankful to the General Assembly for a $160 million increase. That money will be distributed to school districts to be used in their local budgets and can be used to support music and arts programs.
Governor Wolf proposed a reduction in funding for the school safety program while PMEA advocacted for it to reamin at last year’s funding level. The final budget does not reduce that amount and keeps it at last year’s funding level of $60 million. Not only is that money useful for school safety initiatives, it allows school districts to use other monetary resources from the local, state, and federal level for other education expenses that they would have otherwise used for school safety.
PMEA also advocated for at least a $7 million-dollar increase to the State System of Higher Education schools to support the work they are doing to educate Pennsylvania’s future music educators. The General Assembly exceeded that amount and provided over $9 million to the State System schools. PMEA will continue to work with our members at State System schools to advocate for their programs.