February 2, 2021 – Today’s historic education budget proposal could be the start of a better future for our Commonwealth. Governor Tom Wolf is proposing to spend an additional $1.55 billion for education and drive out most of those dollars to districts with significant unmet needs using the state’s fair funding formula.
Attorneys at the Education Law Center and Public Interest Law Center, who represent the petitioners in Pennsylvania’s school funding lawsuit, applauded the governor’s announcement. They also explained why the case challenging Pennsylvania’s school funding system will continue, even if the General Assembly passes the governor’s proposal.
“For years, our school funding system has allowed students who need the most to get the least, because of where they live,” said Education Law Center executive director Deborah Gordon Klehr. “This proposal finally recognizes that reality – and the reality that the enormous shortfalls in education funding across the state require the state to find additional revenues. We wholeheartedly support the governor’s groundbreaking proposal as a giant step in the right direction that helps to tackles the chronic shortfalls in state funding for both basic education and special education. As laudable and necessary as the proposal is, it is not enough by itself to right the deep wrongs our irrational school funding system has brought to our communities for decades.”
“The magnitude of our students’ unmet needs is immense, and growing by the day. While the hole we have dug is far too large to climb out of in a single year, the governor’s proposal is precisely the first step we need.”
“The deep inequities between wealthy and poor school districts have been building for generations, fueled by an overreliance on local property taxes,” said Dan Urevick-Ackelsberg, staff attorney at the Public Interest Law Center. “The magnitude of our students’ unmet needs is immense, and growing by the day. While the hole we have dug is far too large to climb out of in a single year, the governor’s proposal is precisely the first step we need. The legislature should pass it immediately, and then get to work on its constitutional obligation: ensuring that all Pennsylvania students have the resources they need to thrive. Only when the legislature finally lives up to its constitutional mandate will our case end.”