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The next 26 days

Decisions PA legislators make in the upcoming weeks will have a lasting impact on PA’s public school students. From now until June 30th, when the state budget is due, lawmakers will be passing legislation and cutting deals as they determine how much state funding our children’s school districts will receive.

We need to be ready to make regular calls to state lawmakers until the budget is passed. Lobbyists for special interest groups will be in the Capitol every day pressuring lawmakers to support legislation that will siphon money out of public schools and into private pockets.  Lawmakers need to hear from their constituents to be reminded that voters back in their districts expect a budget and policies that will support strong public schools.

To get ready to make these calls, click HERE to find your state lawmakers’ phone numbers and put them in your cell phone or write them down near your home phone. These calls only take a few minutes and as few as 5 phone calls to a lawmaker’s office about a specific issue can have a significant impact on the decisions s/he makes.

Click HERE for a guide to calling your state lawmakers.

Please mark your calendar for the following actions and look for an email from Ed Voters on these dates:

Wednesday, June 7, ask your state senator to oppose HB 97 and HB 250

Tuesday, June 13, ask your state senator and rep to support Governor Wolf’s budget proposal for public schools

Wednesday, June 21, statewide call to action/day of action to support public education (more details to come)

These are the key issues we are watching:

HB 250-taxpayer-funded private/religious school tuition assistance for middle class families.

HB 250 has been passed by the PA House. This bill proposes to increase taxpayer funding for private/religious school scholarships to $180 MILLION/year by providing $55 million in NEW corporate tax breaks for businesses that contribute to private/religious school scholarship organizations through the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit (OSTC) programs.

State funding for public schools is so inadequate that school districts are raising property taxes and still cannot provide their students with the most basic resources they need to be successful. Lawmakers need to fund our PUBLIC schools, NOT a giveaway to middle-class families whose children attend private/religious schools.

HB 97–the charter school “reform” bill that fails to address critical academic performance and funding issues that impact students, communities, and taxpayers.

HB 97 has already been passed by the PA House. This legislation does nothing to address the continued abysmal academic performance of the state’s cyber charter schools — none of which have met the minimum proficiency standard on the state’s school performance profile. It also fails to address the $100 million (and growing) windfall charters receive each year from the broken special education funding system.

Many lawmakers support the creation of a legislative Charter School Advisory Commission that will conduct an  in-depth study of issues related to charter schools before the enactment of legislation. We support this approach.The findings of bipartisan, bicameral legislative commission should be used to inform a new charter school law, not the charter school lobby wish list in HB 97.

The State Budget 

Lawmakers must  support Governor Wolf’s proposed $100M increase for Basic Education Funding, $25M increase for Special Education funding, and $75M increase for early childhood education programs.

The PA House has already released its own austere budget proposal, which retains the K-12 funding increases proposed by Governor Wolf. However,the House budget significantly undermines support for young children and working families by cutting $50 million in funding increases for Pre-K programs proposed in Governor Wolf’s budget and providing $62 million less in Child Care Services and Assistance.

Thank you for your continued support of public education. I hope that you’ll join us in making phone calls and taking action this month!