State Budget Advances (Mostly) Without Education Funding Increases

Promised hike disappeared when giant deficit appeared.

AP reports that the Pennsylvania House Appropriations Committee has advanced a $29.1 billion budget plan that largely pulls back hikes in education funding that Gov. Corbett sought earlier this year — a victim of the projected $1.5 billion budget deficit brought on by a weak economy.

But the plan depends on selling off the state’s wine and liquor operations — a one-time influx of money that is unlikely to materialize this year, anyway.

Public schools would see an extra $100 million, including $70 million for instruction and operations, $20 million for special education and $10 million for school construction projects. But the new, $340 million “Ready to Learn” block grant program proposed by Corbett in his February budget plan was jettisoned.

In any case, for many of the state’s 500 school districts, “the need far exceeds $70 million,” said Rep. Mike Carroll, D-Luzerne.

Indeed, the Philadelphia school district, on its own, is trying to chip away at a $216 million deficit.

Approval by the full House is expected next for the bill. A new budget is required by July 1st, though lawmakers have routinely exceeded that deadline over the years.