The Devil’s in the Details

During Monday’s state-wide call-your-legislator event, many people reported having conversations with the Governor’s office in which various staff members argued that the proposed budget actually increases funding for public education. It is disappointing to see this tired old claim repeatedly pulled out and dusted off for use. But since the devil is always in the details, let’s be clear about exactly how this devil of a budget slashes another $100 MILLION (while carrying forward last year’s nearly $1 BILLION in cuts).

Here is the list of programs that would be eliminated or reduced under the proposed budget, along with those receiving level funding or slight increases (compiled by the Education Policy and Leadership Center). Governor Corbett has proposed collapsing four current budget line items into a new block grant (the basic education subsidy, pupil transportation, nonpublic and charter school public transportation, and school employees’ social security) suggesting this will provide “flexibility.” (See why school district’s say this is fiction.) While this new block grant increases the basic education funding line item slightly (3/10 of 1 percent over last year), it is almost entirely for state-mandated employee pension payments (which translate to actual cuts to student education). Overall, this budget slashes another $100 million, as you can see in the following, devilish details.

These programs would receive a 5 percent reduction, as indicated by the dollar value:

  • Pre-K Counts ($4.139 million cut)
  • Head Start Supplemental Assistance ($1.864 million cut)
  • Adult and Family Literacy ($614 thousand cut)
  • Education of Migrant Laborers’ Children ($45 thousand cut)
  • Services to Non-Public Schools ($4.319 million cut)
  • Textbooks, Materials and Equipment for Nonpublic Schools ($1.314 million cut)
  • Safe School Initiative ($106 thousand cut)

These programs would receive a 10 percent reduction, as indicated by the dollar value:

  • Teacher Professional Development ($718 thousand cut)
  • Community Education Councils ($120 thousand cut)

These programs would be level funded (meaning the same as last year). Total funding is listed for each item.

  • Special Education would be flat-funded for the 4th consecutive year ($1.026 billion)
  • PA Charter Schools for the Deaf and Blind ($39.401 million)
  • Approved Private Schools ($98.098 million)
  • Authority Rentals and Sinking Fund Requirements ($296.198 million)
  • Payments in Lieu of Taxes ($194 thousand)

These education items would be eliminated entirely. Last year’s funding level indicated for each item.

  • Mobile Science Education Program ($650 thousand)
  • School Nutrition Incentive Program ($3.327 million)
  • Job Training Programs ($4.8 million)
  • Accountability Block Grant, most districts use for Kindergarten ($100 million)

These line items received increases, as indicated by the dollar value:

  • Career and Technical Education was increased by 1.5 percent ($1.089 million)
  • PA Assessment was increased by 42.6 percent ($15.601 million)
  • Early Intervention received a 4.1 percent increase ($8.057 million)
  • School Food Services was increased by 2.4 percent ($734 thousand)
  • School Employees’ Retirement was increased by 52.6 percent ($315.880 million)
  • Tuition for Orphans and Children Placed in Private Homes was increased by 3.5 percent ($1.955 million)

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