Shapiro calls for historic $1.1 billion education funding increases in second budget address

Gov. Josh Shapiro speaking to the media in the Governor's Reception Room at the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg on July 6, 2023. (Photo: Sean Kitchen)

By Sean Kitchen

February 6, 2024

Shapiro proposed a historic $1.1 billion funding increase for public education in his second budget in an effort to plug the commonwealth’s $6.2 billion education funding deficit.

Gov. Josh Shapiro announced a historic $1.07 billion increase in basic education funding when delivering his second budget address in the Pennsylvania State Capitol on Tuesday.

The commonwealth is going into the 2024-25 fiscal year with a $14 billion budget surplus and the governor doesn’t want Harrisburg to hold that money and not make critical investments.

“Now is the time to invest some of that $14 billion surplus squirreled away here in Harrisburg,” Shapiro told lawmakers.

“It’s not a badge of honor, nor is it something to be politically proud of for some lawmakers out there to say: I took more money from the good people of Pennsylvania than I needed and then bragged about how I just kept it in some bank account here in the capitol.”

The education funding increases include $872 million for first-year adequacy investment and $200 million for the basic education funding formula. Shapiro’s budget also includes $300 million a year for the next five years to make environmental repairs in school buildings across the commonwealth.

In his previous budget, the Governor was able to increase basic education funding by $567 million dollars, the largest increase in the commonwealth’s history, and he secured a $46.7 million increase for a universal free breakfast program providing no-cost breakfasts to Pennsylvania’s 1.7 million public school students.

Unlike other budget addresses before him, Shapiro delivered the 2024-25 budget from the capitol’s rotunda.

“Although this is a unique setting for a budget address, it’s not the only thing unique about this group assembled here,” Shapiro said.

“Pennsylvania is the only state in the nation with a divided legislature. In these hyperpolarized times, we are the only state where one chamber is controlled by Democrats and the other is controlled by Republicans.”

The spectacle that is Pennsylvania’s yearly budget address was more cramped than usual. For the first time in the capitol’s 118-year history, the budget address was delivered in the capitol rotunda due to renovations fixing a leaking roof in the Pennsylvania House.

Shapiro delivered his address from the rotunda’s grand staircase while 253 members from Pennsylvania’s House and Senate were packed throughout the rotunda.

Shapiro’s proposed education funding increases come following Pennsylvania’s historic school funding lawsuit brought forward by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Education Law Center and the Public Interest Law Center, who represented six school districts from across the commonwealth.

The Commonwealth Court ruled last February that Pennsylvania is not keeping up with its constitutional duty to adequately fund public education, and the Basic Education Funding Commission, which was a 15 member bipartisan panel, reconvened over the past year to find ways to close Pennsylvania’s $6.2 billion public education funding deficit.

The commission recommended increasing education funding by $9 billion over the next seven years in order to meet the court’s ruling.

Education advocates called on Shapiro to increase education funding by $2 billion in the upcoming budget and then add an additional $1 billion in funding for every year through 2030. Last month, they stated that they were ready to file another lawsuit if the upcoming budget doesn’t come close to meeting those needs.



Author

  • Sean Kitchen

    Sean Kitchen is the Keystone’s political correspondent, based in Harrisburg. Sean is originally from Philadelphia and spent five years working as a writer and researcher for Pennsylvania Spotlight.

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