Harrisburg, Pa.− February 7, 2022 − Today, Senator Lindsey M. Williams sent a letter to Governor Tom Wolf ahead of his Budget Address to the General Assembly to ask him to make critical investments in education spending in the Fiscal Year 2022-23 budget. Recognizing that Governor Wolf has made education a major priority in previous budgets, Senator Williams encouraged him to make this year a high-water mark for education funding and pledged her support for these investments as the Minority Chair of the Senate Education Committee.
Senator Williams’ letter, which can be read in full here, champions bold investments across all aspects of education. Specifically, the Senator highlights the need for bold action to be taken in the following areas:
- Mental Health Supports in Schools: “Even before the pandemic, Safe2Say reports showed us that mental health concerns about bullying, cutting, suicidal thoughts, and anxiety are enormous problems facing our students. Focused investments in providing mental health support staff will ensure that these critical health resources are available to the students and educators who need them most.”
- Charter School Law Reform: “Stemming the tide of unchecked and growing mandated charter school costs isn’t just necessary for our schools’ stability—it’s absolutely critical if we’re going to prevent or limit property tax increases, especially for our seniors and low-income communities. SB 27, my bill with Senator Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny), will address these costs and should be a starting point for any negotiations around Charter School Law Reform.
- Career and Technical Education: “We need to create pathways for students to enter these highly-skilled, family-sustaining workforces. This includes reducing barriers to entry and costs to students through earning certifications and college credit through dual enrollment and partnerships with unions, trades, and businesses.”
- Community Colleges & the PA State System of Higher Education (PASSHE): “Community colleges play a critical role in workforce development, local economic development, and vocational training. Our PASSHE schools should be playing a similar role. By making significant investments and strengthening collaboration between these institutions, we can create a strong Pennsylvania system of higher education that creates the workforce of the future without burdening our students with a mountain of student loan debt.”
- Student Loan Forgiveness: “Current school staffing shortages have an enormous price tag and they take a tremendous toll on students, staff, and parents. Students in overcrowded classrooms can’t get individualized attention they need to succeed academically, no matter how hard educators work. I will soon be introducing student loan relief legislation to help attract and retain the critical school staff and mental health professionals that Pennsylvania desperately needs..”
- EITC/OSTC Scholarship Transparency: “Without data on what students are receiving these scholarships and the performance of the schools where the scholarships are being used, we cannot meaningfully evaluate the effectiveness of these tax breaks. We cannot continue to increase EITC and OSTC scholarships exponentially without having any insight into whether the money is actually reaching the students it was intended to help.”
Governor Wolf’s annual Budget Address to the General Assembly will be held on February 8, 2022 at 11:30 a.m.