Late last week, in a bipartisan manner, the General Assembly finalized a $25.8 billion stopgap budget that will continue to fund most programs at their current levels until November 2020. After the November elections, legislators will return to Harrisburg to finalize a budget for the remainder of the fiscal year. The five-month, stopgap funding applies for Allies for Children’s priorities including CHIP and evidence-based home visiting.
The most notable exceptions to the partially funded budget include education-related items, which were funded for the entire fiscal year. This is also the case for Medicaid, which is funded for the state for the entire fiscal year. Allocations for Basic Education Funding, Special Education, and Career and Technical Education are flat funded at last year’s levels and will be for the entire school year. This move is very welcome and provides stability for our schools during this uncertain time.
Flat funding is much less than our schools need, especially during these unprecedented times, but knowing that funding will not be cut and that it is for the entire fiscal year allows districts to plan for the upcoming school year. Please visit PA Schools Work for additional information.
Accompanying the education allocations is a school code bill that includes:
- The distribution of $200 million in federal stimulus dollars dedicated to the health and safety of public school students.
- Reinstating the 180 school day mandate.
- Reformation of the Basic Education Funding commission in 2022 to re-examine the fair funding formula. This will be the first time since the formula was enacted that legislators will be examining its effectiveness.
Reflecting on the five-month funding period, in regards to evidence-based home visiting, the Community-Based Family Centers line is flat-funded at $7.7 million and the Nurse Family Partnership line is also flat-funded at $5.5 million. Evidence-based home visiting services to children and families will be preserved under this stop-gap budget. This is of vital importance, as during the COVID-19 pandemic, families need the supportive services offered by voluntary, evidence-based home visiting programs now more than ever. Allies for Children and its partners in the Childhood Begins at Home campaign will continue to advocate for the $100 million in federal stimulus funds currently being considered in the U.S. Senate as part of the latest stimulus legislation. Read the campaign’s full statement here.
The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is funded at $41.5 million. This level of funding provides an increase of state funds to offset a planned reduction of the federal match for the program so CHIP services are not impacted. The decrease in federal matching funds is the previously scheduled second step of a two-step plan to revert to the match rate prior to the “CHIP bump” received as part of the Affordable Care Act.
For a complete overview of the budget, please visit the PA Budget Office’s Web page.