Governor visits Pittsburgh school to discuss proposal to help teacher shortage

PITTSBURGH — Governor Josh Shapiro was joined by city, state and federal leaders at a Pittsburgh school on Tuesday.

Shapiro visited with students and staff at Colfax K-8 before holding a press conference to discuss the state’s worsening teacher shortage.

“Ten years ago, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania certified 20,000 teachers that year,” he said. “Last year, we certified just over 6,100.”

“Right now, we have a shortage of teachers and we have to find a way to make this attractive again,” said Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey.

In an effort to recruit more people to the profession, Shapiro’s proposed budget includes a tax credit of up to $2,500 annually for three years for new teachers.

Channel 11 previously told you about the proposed tax credit, which would also extend to new police officers and new nurses.

Shapiro said that his budget would further invest more than $1 billion for schools, including funding for universal free breakfasts and funding for mental health counselors and services.

“Every person, especially our children, should have the freedom to chart their own course and the opportunity to succeed,” Shapiro said. “And it starts in our public schools.”

The proposed investment comes not long after Channel 11 reported that a state court had ruled that Pennsylvania’s school funding system is unconstitutional.

We asked Shapiro about the decision. He stated that there are no indications that the parties involved will appeal, which would mean the ruling will stand. In that instance, lawmakers will need to develop a new system, and may get to work within the next year or so.

“This is going to require bipartisan consensus. It’s going to require regional consensus. It’s going to require all of us recognizing we have to do better by our kids,” Shapiro said.

He said that his budget “represents a downpayment on that process.”

Shapiro said that his budget is balanced and would not require a tax increase.

Some Republicans, however, have expressed concerns with the budget at large.

A statement posted by members of the PA House Republican Appropriations Committee says that the budget does nothing “to address our structural deficit.” It further states that the budget does “nothing to prepare the Commonwealth for the turbulent economic climate many economists are predicting.”

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