HARRISBURG, PA – November 15, 2023 – Senator Lisa M. Boscola (D-Northampton) took a stand during session today, as the Omnibus School Code bill, HB301, was considered for final passage by the Senate. Despite supporting critical elements such as School Safety, Substitute Teacher Flexibility, and Community College funding, Senator Boscola voiced strong concerns about the bill’s failure to address the persistent issue of inequitable education funding in the Lehigh Valley. Click HERE to view Senator Boscola’s floor remarks.
“For decades, Harrisburg has shortchanged the homeowners in my district,” stated Senator Boscola. “My largest school district, BASD, receives $63 million less than required by the state’s basic ed funding formula, in total leaving the school districts I represent short $74.5 million of fair funding.”
The Senator highlighted her ongoing efforts to address the funding disparity, lamenting, “I have introduced bills, held hearings, and have spoken on the floor about the unfairness of our current funding system, and nothing happens. Even a court decision declaring our funding system unconstitutional cannot compel action.”
Addressing recent budget decisions that worsened the situation, Senator Boscola voiced, “Sadly, the last two budgets have made the situation worse for homeowners in my district. In June of 2022, the General Assembly voted to remove $130-million-dollars of table-game revenue from the property tax relief fund and placed it in the general fund. Money that was promised for homeowner property tax relief, stolen!”
Expressing specific concerns about the current bill, Senator Boscola remarked, “This proposal fails to include the one program ‘level-up’ that actually helps the most underfunded school districts catch-up a little bit from several decades of being shorted in Harrisburg. So, this year, Bethlehem Area School District will have a $1.6-million-dollar hole in its budget because level-up was not funded. It’s likely now the local property owners of the school district will be asked to make up the difference.”
While supporting the bill for its positive aspects, Senator Boscola urged a more comprehensive approach in the next budget, emphasizing, “We need to seriously address the issues I highlighted…It’s frustrating how we continue to kick the can down the road in this Chamber, but what’s worse in this budget, we miss the can completely!”