Education Voters of PA’s reaction to Governor Wolf’s decision to allow HB 1801 to become law without his signature

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For Immediate Release

 3/23/2016

Education Voters of PA’s reaction to Governor Wolf’s decision to allow HB 1801 to become law without his signature

 Susan Spicka, Director of  Education Voters of PA, issued the following statement regarding Governor Wolf’s decision to allow HB 1801 to become law without his signature :

Today Governor Wolf announced that he will allow HB 1801, the most recent budget passed by the legislature, to become law without his signature. He stressed that the math does not add up in the budget; it is not balanced and the money it claims to have simply doesn’t exist. Nevertheless, Governor Wolf stated that the right thing to do now is to move on and to focus on a responsible, balanced budget for 2016-2017.

We recognize the fierce opposition that Governor Wolf and many lawmakers, both Democrats and Republicans, have faced as they have tirelessly fought to get school funding back on track through a significant new investment of state dollars into Basic Education Funding.  Budgets are about priorities and it is an unfortunate reality that providing adequate state funding to schools and ensuring that all children in the Commonwealth receive a quality education is simply not a priority for some lawmakers, including many who are in leadership positions in the Republican Party.

HB 1801 contains a modest   $200 million increase in Basic Education Funding. However, more than 25% of this increase will go to banks instead of children’s classrooms as lawmakers who supported this budget did not include reimbursements to school districts for the extraordinary interest payments and fees they have incurred as a result of the budget impasse.

HB 1801 is not a budget to celebrate.  Lawmakers should not congratulate themselves for passing a budget that fails to begin solving the state’s long-term school funding crisis, continues to underfund schools that educate the most vulnerable children in the Commonwealth, and ensures that Pennsylvania will maintain the dubious distinction of being the state with the most inequitable school funding system in the nation. Lawmakers should certainly not be proud of passing an unbalanced budget that creates a $2 billion deficit in 2016-2017.

We most strongly urge Governor Wolf and the legislature to immediately begin working on the 2016-2017 budget and to negotiate in good faith and in the best interests of our children so that the travesty of the 2015-2016 budget will not repeat itself.

Lawmakers must dig deep and find the courage to make tough decisions and pass a responsible 2016-2017 budget that contains adequate and recurring revenue and an increase of at least $400 million in Basic Education Funding.  They must not pass another budget that hurts children and ensures that students throughout the Commonwealth will  endure yet another school year in underfunded schools that cannot provide them with the opportunities they need to be successful in life now and after they graduate.

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