FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 6, 2024
Contact: Kirstin Snow, Director of Communications, email@example.com
STATEMENT on Governor Shapiro’s 2024-25 Budget Address, Pennsylvania Policy Center
A Pennsylvania Budget To Celebrate
Governor Shapiro took office a year ago at a time when there was a great deal of uncertainty about the economy and the fiscal state of Pennsylvania, and in the wake of a Commonwealth Court decision holding that Pennsylvania’s system of funding public schools is unconstitutional. There was little time for a new administration, led by a new governor and an entirely new set of cabinet members, to develop a long-term plan to address the school funding question. Accordingly, the administration said that its initial budget would be followed by a second-year budget, which would fully address the constitutional mandate to fund K–12 education fully and fairly and other issues. And when we reviewed the budget presented by the Governor last year, we concluded that it set forth the right priorities but did not provide enough funding to meet the needs it identified.
We are very pleased to say that the budget presented by Governor Shapiro today not only has the right priorities but provides the funding needed to meet them, at least in the next fiscal year. The investments the Governor proposes for public K–12 education, higher education, economic development, housing, the minimum wage, and other priorities are substantial and bold. And as important as the new proposed funding is, the Governor’s budget also recognizes the need for Pennsylvania to do some things differently in all these areas.
If adopted by the General Assembly, the Governor’s proposal would put us on a path to answering the impassioned call for adequately and equitably funding schools made by our young people, their parents, and other Pennsylvanians, who have long understood that equality of opportunity, prosperity, and democracy are intricately linked to the education the state provides them.
This proposal is the first step in answering their prayers, and we applaud Governor Shapiro for embracing the BEFC report and adopting its first-year plan in his budget. We think Pennsylvanians should celebrate this budget and work with Governor Shapiro to see it enacted this year.
Our only concern about this budget presentation is that it proposes new investments in K–12 education for only one year. The administration embraced the Basic Education Funding Commission’s seven-year plan to lift state support of K–12 to a level that would meet our moral and constitutional responsibility to fund our schools fully and fairly. However, the long-term budget outlook in the Executive Budget plan released today only contains the first year of the seven-year plan needed to meet that responsibility. The statement of the Governor’s priorities does say that the additional educational investment next year is just the “first year adequacy investment as recommended by the BEFC.” So, we are confident that Governor Shapiro intends to follow through on the commitment to the full seven-year plan his representatives on the Basic Education Funding Commission, as he is both personally committed and constitutionally required to adequately and equitably fund our schools. But the true cost of that plan—and the revenues needed to fund it—are not apparent in the budget documents submitted today. Pennsylvanians deserve a transparent budget process that allows us to consider the alternatives before us.
For the full analysis, click here.