Harrisburg, January 31, 2022 – State Sen. Jim Brewster today stood with colleagues in the House and Senate to announce a school budget plan that would represent the largest investment in public education in Pennsylvania history.
The $3.75 billion outline, dubbed the Full Funding Plan, would take advantage of an expected $6 billion year-end state revenue balance to address generational inequity, crumbling school infrastructure and staffing problems exacerbated by the pandemic.
Brewster, who sits on the PA Senate Education Committee and the PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency’s School Safety and Security Committee, said inadequate school funding and disinvestment in struggling communities are at the root of numerous costly social problems.
“We can’t effectively address crime or violence without investing in struggling schools and closing the opportunity gap in education,” he said. “In many neighborhoods the school is the safe haven and the resource of first choice for disadvantaged families. This plan is an opportunity to truly create the ‘thorough and efficient’ system of public education that our constitution requires.”
The plan would make significant additional investments in the following areas:
- $1.1 billion into the Fair Funding Formula
- $750 million into Level Up (targets 200 districts with the most inequitable funding, and largest adequacy gap)
- $1.1 billion into school facilities
- $250 million into historic staffing problems
- $125 million into mental health supports
- $100 million into academic supports
“We are confident in the sustainability of this plan because Pennsylvania is experiencing an unprecedented revenue surplus due to a huge economic turnaround aided by federal investments,” said State Sen. Vincent Hughes, Democratic Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “There can be no more excuses for toxic schools and inequality of opportunity. We are sitting on the largest pool of unspent funds in Pennsylvania history.”
Hughes said state revenues are on track to outperform estimates by well over $2 billion, while nearly $2.2 billion of American Rescue Plan funds remain unused.
“The time is now. The time is right,” said Sen. Jay Costa, the Democratic Leader. “The resources are there, and its incumbent upon all of us to really make a significant statement on the steps we need to take to adequately fund public education.”
Pennsylvania’s strong revenues combined with federal assistance will result in a year-end balance of well over $6 billion.