Educators react to Gov. Shapiro’s signing of state budget

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Education was a key sticking point in this year’s Pennsylvania state budget, but now, after more than a month of heated negotiation, it’s finally done.

And with just weeks until the school year begins, many teachers across the Commonwealth are breathing easier knowing that Gov. Josh Shapiro has signed the $45.5-billion state budget.

Some educators like Dawn Golden call it a win.

“We will see the largest increase in basic education funding formula in Pennsylvania’s history,” said Golden, the assistant superintendent for Penn Hills School District.

Locally, Golden said that a $567 million increase in basic education, a $50 million increase in special education funding, and a universal free breakfast for every student will help their district better prepare their students for success. But she told Shapiro during his visit to the district that more funding is needed.

“We also recognize that there is still work that needs to be done and look forward to working with the legislature,” Golden said.

The budget put on hold $100 million in level-up funding which goes to the state’s poorest schools. It also nixed a proposed $100 million voucher program that would give families in low-performing public schools scholarships to attend private schools.

“It’s certainly a concept that I support,” said Shapiro about the voucher program. He added, “And it’s a fair disagreement with some people but we have got to work on that together and we have to continue to find common ground.”

State Sen. Jay Costa said this unfinished business will be the first item that the legislature addresses this fall.

“First and foremost, getting together and reaching a consensus on a fiscal code will allow us to drive out that $100 million you referenced as well as resources for other communities,” Costa said.

The voucher program was vetoed so that money is no longer a part of the budget and will have to be allocated by the legislature this fall.

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