HARRISBURG – The Senate approved historic public education investments as part of the 2022-23 budget, Sen. Scott Martin (R-13) announced today.
“This historic investment in Pennsylvania’s students prioritizes their safety, resiliency and educational achievement after years of pandemic-induced learning loss,” Martin said. “We’ve greatly heightened school safety and mental health program dollars and expanded school choice for families, leaving our education landscape with more opportunities and support than ever before.”
House Bill 1642, the Education Code, includes a $525 million increase for Basic Education funding and a $100 million increase for Special Education funding; funding increases that will help school districts in the 13th Senatorial District that have long-waited for full implementation of the Fair Funding Formula.
The $45.2 billion budget, which also includes federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, represents a 2.9% increase over the previous year’s spending – and $500 million less than Gov. Tom Wolf’s original budget request.
House Bill 1642 also boosts the Education Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) programs by a combined $125 million to ensure more students can learn in the educational environment that best suits their needs, especially for the 70,000 families of recent years that were denied opportunities to best meet their children’s needs because of program caps.
“The EITC and OSTC programs give families a way out of consistently deteriorating school districts that have failed their children, or to meet their individualized needs,” Martin said. “Kids shouldn’t be trapped in hopeless situations simply because of where they live. Parents should have the ability to put their children in the best educational setting to meet their needs, and this investment into the EITC/OSTC program will offer that choice to thousands more families than ever before.”
Funding is also dedicated in this year’s budget to ensure our students are safe and secure with a historic commitment of $100 million in funding for school safety and security grants for every school district in Pennsylvania. In addition, another $100 million in funding is being dedicated to mental health grants for schools. The Ready to Learn Block Grant Program also received a $100 million dollar commitment.
Martin, as Chairman of the Senate Education Committee, said several of the proposals he spearheaded also passed as part of the budget, including rolling back the administration’s charter school regulatory reforms that should have been legislated, closing a scoring loophole for the Keystone Exams that limit graduation options for students impacted by COVID-19 shutdowns, and expanding career training for cosmetologists and barbers.
“I’m very pleased with the negotiations that occurred in this school code,” Martin said. “This absolutely meets the needs of students and families across Pennsylvania and provides desperately needed opportunities. It offers new graduation pathways, attempts to deal with recruitment to address the teacher shortage and also grows our commitment to the safety, security and mental health of our children across the Commonwealth”
CONTACT: Terry Trego, 717-787-6535