Public Policy Update

Pennsylvania Has A Budget (Sort Of)
On Friday, the Pennsylvania General Assembly sent
Governor Tom Wolf a $32 billion budget. However, the House and Senate sent the spending plan to the Governor but did not send the plan with the associated funding plan. It’s unclear if Governor Wolf will sign the budget into law without the spending bill in place. Lawmakers won’t return until at least Wednesday to figure out how to cover the over $2 billion deficit in the budget.
Broad based tax increases seem off the table but finding some sustainable revenue seems to be the goal.  Among the areas still under consideration to find new revenue are: adding video gaming terminals across the state, a tax on gas drilling or borrowing the money.
Highlights of the budget include:
  • A $100 million increase for the basic education subsidy
  • A $25 million increase for special education
  • A $30 million increase for Pre-K
  • Governor Wolf’s proposal of a $50 million decrease for school transportation is not included in the budget which makes the $100 million increase for the basic education subsidy a true increase
  • A 2 percent increase for the 14 state universities in the State System of Higher Education. Penn State, Pitt, Temple, and Lincoln universities and community colleges are flat funded
We will continue to monitor the revenue plan for the budget in the coming weeks.  PMEA joined with many other education organizations in Pennsylvania in advocating for the $100 million increase in the basic education subsidy.Thank you to those of you that added your voice to help make this happen!
Pennsylvania ESSA Plan
We continue to wait for news on Pennsylvania’s ESSA state plan. We expect to see the draft plan in August. You will have a chance to hear a preview of parts of the plan at this year’s PMEA Summer Conference. Beth Olanoff from the Pennsylvania Department of Education will join us at the conference closing session to discuss the ESSA plan. I’ll be moderating the session and plan to make sure we hear about how the arts can fit into Pennsylvania’s plan. You don’t want to miss this conversation with Beth who is truly the architect of the Pennsylvania ESSA plan!
PMEA Visits Capitol Hill
Last week, PMEA members visited Capitol Hill in Washington DC to discuss ESSA funding. The PMEA delegation met with representatives from Senators Casey and Toomey’s offices as well members of the House. We shared our concerns with the funding levels of federal Title IV funds that are designed to support a well-rounded education. Funding for this year was only $400 million. We are advocating for full funding of this program which is $1.65 billion. The difference in that funding stream works out to about $43 million less in funding coming to Pennsylvania. We will continue to work with NAfME to support this funding in the federal budget.