State Budget Finalized
Late last week, the General Assembly and Governor Wolf finalized a budget for FY 2021-22. Overall, the budget continues to invest in Basic Education Funding, Special Education and early childhood programs, but falls short in not increasing allocations for Career and Technical Education and Evidence-based Home Visiting.
Additional advocacy work needs to be done to demonstrate the importance of these programs and the reliance on them for a high-quality workforce and a thriving community.
Basic Education Funding
The finalized budget includes a $200 million increase to Basic Education Funding. This increase is a 4.8% increase over 2019-20 and a 2.4% increase over the past two years since last year levels were flat. This increase is significantly less than the $1.3 billion increase that the Governor proposed in February. The approved allocations will be distributed through the Fair Funding Formula. You can view estimated allocations for Allegheny County schools here.
In an effort to move towards equity, the state budget includes $100 million that will be distributed to the 100 most historically underfunded school districts throughout the commonwealth through the “Level-Up” program. The following Allegheny County schools will receive increases through the Level-Up program:
|School District||Level-Up Funding|
Career and Technical Education
In regards to Career and Technical Education (CTE), the budget allocated $43.5 million of one-time federal American Rescue Plan dollars to CTE programming to purchase equipment. While this additional funding is welcomed, it is a one-time allocation that cannot be used on recurring expenses within CTE classrooms. No increases were allocated in the CTE state subsidy. This is disappointing as CTE is key to ensuring our commonwealth’s workforce is equipped to enter high-wage, high-skill, high-demand career fields. This lack of increased funding is also happening at a time when our economy is rebuilding and the federal government is investing heavily in infrastructure. It is clear that high-quality CTE programming is needed now more than ever.
Special Education Funding
The approved budget increases funding for special education programs by $50 million. While additional funds are needed, this is a good step to easing the burden of costs on local school districts.
The approved budget makes positive investments in crucial early childhood programs. The state budget includes a $25 million increase to expand Pre-K Counts and a $5 million increase to expand Head Start. These increases are significant and continue to build on the General Assembly’s commitment to invest in Pennsylvania’s youngest children.
Evidence-based Home Visiting
A missed opportunity in the budget was the lack of investment in our commonwealth’s struggling families. Allies for Children is a partner in the Childhood Begins at Homecampaign, a statewide campaign to help policymakers and the public understand the value of evidence-based home visiting and support public investments in the programs. In this budget, the Community-Based Family Centers line will be level-funded, and the Nurse-Family Partnership line will receive a minimal increase to restore the line to its prior level due to a slight reduction resulting from the state using enhanced Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) funding last year.
Specific allocations for all state funded programs can be found here.
Allies for Children is a partner in the PA Schools Work campaign. You can read more about the campaign and its response to the budget at www.PASchoolsWork.org.
Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials and Pennsylvania’s Association of School Administrators recently released the 2021 School District Budget Report. This report summarizes the challenges impacting school district budgets across the commonwealth.
PA Partnership for Children, partners of Allies for Children in PA Schools Work and Childhood Begins at Home Campaign, released this summary and statement on the recently passed budget.
To learn more about Pre-K and the impact of the state allocated budget, please visit the Early Learning PA campaign website.