Harrisburg – November 17, 2023 – This week, the Senate passed the school funding portion of the 2023-2024 Pennsylvania Budget after amending House Bill 301 to include several programs Senator Brewster and his colleagues have advocated for during this session.
That includes programs to address the state’s teacher shortage, funding for remediating toxic schools, funding for school-based mental health programs, updates for school safety and security, providing for more substitute teachers, and the necessary formulas to effectuate the distribution of appropriated funds.
“We have made significant progress for public school funding in the school code passed this week,” Brewster said. “There were a couple of areas in which we were disappointed, including “Level-Up” funding for our most underfunded schools, as well as PlanCon, which would allocate funds for school construction and facilities.”
However, Senator Brewster was particularly pleased with the funding for school safety in the legislation. Since its 2018 creation, Brewster has been a member of the School Safety and Security Committee and the original advocate for hardening schools while at the same time addressing core causes by making mental health assessments more prevalent and counseling more available.
Brewster also praised the legislation for including funding for the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC).
“We did support the EITC scholarship program, which has been in the budget for several years now,” said Sen. Brewster. “We were able to put more money into this program so that the children who want to attend a private school are not cut short.”
The EITC Program provides tax credits to eligible businesses contributing to nonprofit scholarship or educational improvement organizations. These business contributions are then used to provide scholarships to students to attend private and religious schools.
Key victories for students, educators, administrators, and families passed in the school code legislation include:
- Tackling the Teacher Shortage by providing more funding
- Money to Fix Toxic Schools
- School Based Mental Health Programs
- School Safety and Security
- More Substitute Teachers
- Educational Improvement Program
- Necessary Formulas to Effectuate the Distribution of Appropriated Funds
“Overall, I believe House Bill 301 is a good, bipartisan bill,” said Senator Brewster. “We took a step forward, and we need to take two or three more steps forward to get PlanCon in, for example. I think teachers, administrators, and school boards should be happy with the progress that we made.”