« Newly Elected N.Y. Chancellor Voices Sympathy for Testing Opt-Outs | Main | Here's an Early Look at Education Legislation Proposed This Year »

Pennsylvania Budget Stalemate Ends, Clearing Way for School Aid

An eight-month budget stalemate in Pennsylvania ended Wednesday when Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, backed off his threat to veto a spending plan passed by Republican lawmakers, freeing up millions of dollars in education funding to districts.

But the plan, which will go into effect Monday, provides school districts with just half of the $400 million funding increase Wolf originally sought, according to the Associated Press. It will will distribute $6.6 billion—a 3 percent increase in statewide spending— without raising taxes. 

It's the last piece of a $30 billion spending plan, of which more than $9 billion will be spent on the state's K-12 system. 

The standoff, which started in July, had pitted the legislature against Wolf and led school districts to borrow up to $900 million to stay afloat as of last December and to threaten to shut their doors. Later that month, Wolf signed an emergency reprieve that released money to districts. In January, the state's school boards association sued the state, arguing that Pennsylvania had failed to uphold its constitutional fiduciary duty to adequately fund schools.  

At the center of the debate was a proposal by Wolf to provide hundreds of millions of more dollars to public schools and pay down a ballooning public employee pension fund liability by raising taxes. 

The plan approved Wednesday does not resolve those issues, and Wolf insisted that the state will still need to raise taxes in the coming years to avoid a crisis. Wolf refused to sign the document.  

"What I did do is bring attention to the fact that we have this big structural deficit, we have this train wreck coming at us July 1 ... and I believe that everybody in [the state capital of] Harrisburg now understands that," Wolf told the AP.

With the 2015-16 budget passed, the legislature now will attempt to create a budget for the next fiscal year.  

Don't miss another State EdWatch post. Sign up here to get news alerts in your email inbox. And make sure to follow @StateEdWatch on Twitter for the latest news from state K-12 policy and politics. 

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.


Most Viewed on Education Week



Recent Comments