Final Budget Negotiations Underway – House Passes School Funding Bill

(June 28, 2024)

Negotiations in Harrisburg are in full swing as the race to complete a state budget as close as possible to the June 30 “deadline” ticks by. While we’re not sure where the allocations will end up, we do know that legislators are hoping to reach an agreement by July 4.

Education funding is a major roadblock on the path to reaching this agreement. Recently, the House of Representatives approved a bill that would codify the Basic Education Funding Commission’s recommendations. As you may recall, the BEF Commission approved a final plan on a party-line vote: Almost all Democrats voted for its approval and all Republicans rejected the final report and instead voted for a second version. Although the Republican-supported version included many of the same pieces of the final report, it did not include specific funding levels nor an adequacy funding target/formula. Details about the Commission’s recommendations are available here.

Specifics in the House passed legislation, HB2370, include:

  • Increasing basic education funding, the largest source of classroom funding in the state budget, by $1.1 billion
  • Distributing $200 Million through the Fair Funding Formula
  • Allocating $735 million over the next 7 years in adequacy funding for historically underfunded schools, including 20 out of 43 Allegheny County school districts
  • Providing tax relief for school districts with the highest tax burdens, impacting over 30 districts in Allegheny County

The legislation also includes much needed funding reforms to cyber charter schools, which, if enacted, could save districts thousands, or in some districts millions, of dollars a year in cyber charter school tuition costs. You can view the estimated allocations here.

While this funding package passed the House by a vote of 107-94, with a few Republicans joining Democrats to approve the legislation, it is very unlikely that it will see any movement in the Senate. There was, however, some movement in the Senate related to CTE funding. Recently Sen. Williams’ bill, SB366, moved through the Education Committee and is supported by the Senate members of the BEF Commission. The bill requires that the data needed to secure CTE funding be determined by PDE by June 1 – the same timeline as used for Special Ed and BEF. This will provide more clarity to CTE directors when determining their budgets for the upcoming school year.

As the June 30 deadline comes and goes, time will tell where these pieces fall into place during these (hopefully) final days of budget negotiations.

Jamie Baxter, Allies for Children Executive Director