Governor Tells Legislature to “Do Right By Our Kids” in Wake of Court Decision Affirming PA Schools Aren’t Funded Fairly

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New PBPC Report: Legislature Must Improve on Governor’s School Funding Proposal to Meet That Standard

Harrisburg, PA—Today the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center (PBPC) released a new report detailing the Governor’s proposed budget expenditures as it relates to K-112 education funding. The report, authored by Senior Policy Analyst Diana Polson, takes a deep dive into funding numbers for pre-K, K-12, and Career and Technical Education (CTE).

In his first executive budget released on March 7, 2023, Governor Shapiro proposed a $44.4 billion General Fund budget. This budget proposal comes on the heels of a critical court decision by President Judge Renee Cohn Jubelirer of the Commonwealth Court. Judge Jubelirer ruled our K-12 public education system unconstitutional because it does not fund K-12 education equitably and adequately and therefore does not meet the requirement in the Pennsylvania constitution for a ”thorough and efficient” public education system.

In his budget address, Governor Shapiro pointed to the ruling as “a call to action” and challenged lawmakers to work with him to “come up with a better system, one that passes constitutional muster” and does “right by our kids.”2 The Governor’s initial K-12 funding proposal does not itself meet the historic challenge Pennsylvania faces, however. Lawmakers must improve on that proposal in this year’s final budget.

Polson said, “Governor Shapiro recognized the historic moment Pennsylvania has to create a constitutionally-sound school funding system that ensures quality education in every zip code. It is now up to the Legislature to make a more substantial downpayment on the $4.6 billion our public schools need to adequately and equitably educate our kids.”

PBPC, Keystone Research Center (KRC), and other education advocates have put forward a proposal that should be a guide for the Legislature as it seeks to enact a budget that lives up to this historic moment. Among other differences with the Governor’s proposals, education advocates would include an addition $300 million in targeted funding for the 100 school districts with the greatest need through the Level Up program.

Polson added, “Since it will take several years to get to an education funding system that is fair and constitutional, we need to give our most underfunded school districts and the children they serve more help in this year’s budget.” 

The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center is a nonpartisan policy research project that provides independent, credible analysis on state tax, budget, and related policy matters with attention to the impact of current or proposed policies on working families and individuals.

Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, 412 N. 3rd Street, Harrisburg, PA 17101 | 717-255-7156

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