Welcome, We The People–PA activists, advocates, and supporters, to another edition of our biweekly eBlast! We bring you state, and federal, legislative news and ways to get involved!
- Legislative Updates
- We The People – PA Updates
- Upcoming Opportunities to Get Involved
- For Your Advocacy Work
- Call to Action
- Sign Off
The Senate and the House are each adjourned. They will return on Monday, April 24. Here are their schedules and those of the committees.
New PA Speaker of the House.
We at the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center are thrilled by the vote to elect Representative Joanna McClinton to be Pennsylvania’s speaker of the House of Representatives. Rep. McClinton is not only a dynamic leader but has been a long-time supporter of many of the policies we have put forward. She is also one of the first leaders in the House of Representatives to have endorsed the agenda of our advocacy campaign, We The People–PA. The election of the first Black woman speaker of the House is a breakthrough moment that we hope is another sign of our state’s commitment to overcoming its legacy of white supremacy.
We also want to acknowledge the important role Representative Mark Rozzi played as speaker. Rep. Rozzi’s skillful leadership in his first term made this moment possible and led to the passage last week of bills containing a proposed statute and a constitutional amendment that will open a two-year window for survivors of sexual abuse to sue for justice. We also applaud his determination to adopt rules for the House of Representatives that allow for strong party leadership while being fair to all members, including those in the minority.
Governor Shapiro’s First Budget: The Right Priorities But Inadequate Funding
We the People–PA has three main goals for the 2023-24 budget. While Governor Shapiro’s speech expressed broad support for them, we hope to see the General Assembly enact a budget and other legislation that does more to realize them than what is found in the budget proposal presented this week.
Minimum Wage – As Governor Shapiro recognized, it is long past time to raise the minimum wage in Pennsylvania. Well over a million people who currently make just below or just above $15 per hour would benefit from his plan to raise the minimum wage to that level on January 1, 2024. And it would add billions in spending that would spur on our economy. But we have three other priorities for minimum wage legislation that the governor did not mention. It is time for the state to allow our counties and municipal governments to raise the minimum wage above the state level, ending the state preemption of such action and allowing them to meet the needs of their own communities. It is time to enact “one fair wage,” which would end the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers. And it is time to institute a yearly cost of living increase in the minimum wage. We are grateful that the governor’s budget does support another of our priorities by adding $1.28 million to the Department of Labor budget for hiring more labor law compliance investigators to enforce minimum wage and other labor laws.
K-12 Education – We have long believed that a funding system that does not give every child in the state, no matter where they are from or what they look like, an equal opportunity to receive an adequate education fails to meet the test of justice. Governor Shapiro’s speech recognized the importance of the recent Commonwealth Court decision declaring the state’s system of funding K-12 education unconstitutional because it does not meet the state’s own standard of what our kids need. But, by his own admission, Gov. Shapiro’s proposal for funding K-12 education does not address the constitutional requirement set by Judge Jubelirer. We understand that it takes time to rethink funding of K-12 education. But while we are doing that, the budget that begins on July 1 must take a major step towards meeting the moral and constitutional obligation to our children. And the state can do this given our huge $13 billion surplus in state funds. We call on the General Assembly to add at least $750 billion in basic funding through the funding formula and an additional $400 million through the Level Up program. Level Up ensures that the least well-funded school districts all over our state can begin to catch up.
Housing – We are grateful that Gov. Shapiro’s speech recognized the importance of the Whole-Home Repairs program and promised to expedite funds for it this year. But we believe that to meet the needs of people throughout the state, funding should be increased to $300 million per year and should be a continuing part of the budget.
The 99% PA campaign has resumed their standing weekly Zoom meetings on Thursday afternoons. Reach out to Ali at email@example.com.
The 99% PA campaign’s Jeff Garis has a new weekly blog post on Fridays, “Five Fast Facts,” with a brief overview of the major policy-related developments in Congress and the Biden administration during the previous week. Here is the most recent column.
Rally for School Equality on Transgender Day of Visibility 3/31
For too long, our schools have been treated as the latest battleground in the culture wars with school districts across Pennsylvania introducing hateful, discriminatory policies that target trans kids and ban books that feature diverse perspectives.
Will you join the PA Coalition for Trans Youth, TAKE, and other partners for a Trans Day of Visibility Rally for School Equality on Friday, March 31, 1pm–3pm, on the State Capitol steps in Harrisburg?
Our schools are supposed to be a place for education, not discrimination. We know we need a BIG showing on March 31 to make our case.
Please see the attached flier and RSVP to the event on Facebook
Can you offer a ride to someone, or do you need a ride yourself? Fill out this Google Form to help us coordinate carpools.
Have any questions? Contact Daye Pope at 202-702-1216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We hope to see you standing with us and trans kids on March 31.
Publications released by Keystone Research Center and the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center:
Inequity and Inadequacy in K-12 Education Funding in Pennsylvania: Fiscal Year 2022-23 Update
You can find their other research publications here.
Raise the Minimum Wage – Sign our letter!
Governor Shapiro boldly called on the General Assembly to raise the minimum wage to $15 on January 1, 2024. Contact your state legislators to demand that they embrace Governor Shapiro’s plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour on January 1, 2024, and that they give our counties and cities the right to set an even higher minimum wage if that fits their local economic conditions. Given the size and breadth of our state and its varied economic conditions, it is imperative that every county and municipal government have an opportunity to set a wage appropriate for their community.
Support Public Education — Close the Opportunity Gap for PA Students
Every child, regardless of zip code, has a right to an excellent public education, which requires access to a full curriculum, art and music classes, counselors and librarians, technical opportunities, and a safe, clean, and stable school environment.
Pennsylvania is 43rd in the country when it comes to the share of revenue for local school districts that comes from the state, which means the burden is passed to local taxpayers through property taxes. The state’s total spending on K-12 education is more than $4 billion short of providing an adequate education to all students by the state’s own standard of adequacy.
Now, we have a ruling from the Commonwealth Court that emphatically agrees that our system of funding public education in the Commonwealth is broken.
We must upend the broken school funding system in Pennsylvania once and for all. The state must add AT LEAST $4 billion in basic education funding to close the adequacy gap, distributed through both the Fair Funding Formula and the Level Up supplement.
CLICK HERE TO SEND AN EMAILTO GOVERNOR SHAPIRO AND YOUR LEGISLATORS TO SAY THAT ALL KIDS DESERVE FULLY FUNDED SCHOOLS!
We hope you found this week’s eBlast valuable, and we appreciate your support and the demanding work you all do in your own areas every single day. Keep on keepin’ on!
Marc, Vivienne, Jay, and the rest of our WTP-PA team
Marc Stier: email@example.com
Vivienne Sinagra: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jay Grandis: email@example.com
We The People – PA is a campaign working to ensure that all Pennsylvanians can thrive. We advocate for bold action from state lawmakers to keep our families safe during today’s emergency—and to build a stronger, healthier, and more just future.
We The People – Pennsylvania, 412 N. 3rd Street, Harrisburg, PA 17101 | 717-255-7156
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