Written by Susan Spicka
March 4, 2024

On Wednesday, February 28th, the Senate Appropriations Committee held a budget hearing with the Pennsylvania Department of Education that focused on the proposed funding for education in Governor Shapiro’s 2024-2025 state budget.  

Budget hearings offer lawmakers an opportunity to directly question agency members about the Administration’s proposed budget. The issues lawmakers raise give us insights into the priorities of members and the issues we can expect to see rise in importance throughout the budget season.

It was a full day with a morning session that began at 9:30 and an afternoon session that ran until 4:00.

Click HERE to watch the morning session.

At 12:47 you can watch excellent and very pointed testimony from Senator Lindsey Williams about accountability for cyber charter schools.

Click HERE to watch the afternoon session.

At the beginning of this session, Senator Vincent Hughes’ comments are 🔥🔥.


Penn Live: GOP senators ‘troubled’ by lack of education funding growth in Shapiro’s budget.

Sitting through the hearing, Susan Spicka, executive director of Education Voters of PA, said it struck her that the Republican senators came to the hearing with a talking point they chose to pursue rather than focus on the state’s unconstitutional school funding system and the plan to address it.

“Republicans have no issue making this long-term commitment to cutting corporate taxes by billions of dollars and that costs the state money, but when it comes to funding kids’ schools they balk at making a long-term commitment,” Spicka said. She was referring to the scheduled reduction of the state’s 8.49% corporate net income tax to 4.99% by 2031 which according to the Independent Fiscal Office will result in a $750 million reduction in tax revenue next year alone.

“How do you not support the governor’s proposal for this year when you have $14 billion sitting in the bank and this is the first step toward constitutional school funding,” Spicka said. “It’s inconceivable to me that lawmakers would not support that first year.”

ABC 21: “Funding for PA cyber charter schools discussed during Senate budget hearings.  

WGAL: Some see Pennsylvania budget as a way to level playing field for underfunded schools

90.5 WESA: Cyber charter reform could save some southwestern Pa. schools more than $1 million

Governor Shapiro proposed a historic $1.8 billion investment into public education that puts Pennsylvania on a path toward an adequate, equitable and constitutional school funding system.

This budget, if adopted in full, will deliver critical investments to support our teachers, help districts repair and upgrade school facilities, provide mental health support and special education to our children who need it, and move us closer to fixing the unconstitutional public school funding system that has failed too many students for too long.

Governor Shapiro’s proposal is the critical first step to close the unconstitutional $5.4 billion funding gap identified by the state’s Basic Education Funding Commission (BEFC) and should be accompanied by a legislative mandate to lock in the BEFC’s seven-year timeline for eliminating that gap and implementing the Commission’s other recommendations.

This promises to be a very eventful budget season. We a lot to fight for and are grateful to be doing this work together.