By Amanda Litvinov / photo courtesy of Governor Tom Wolf
Since he took office in 2013, Gov. Tom Wolf has nearly reversed the devastating $1 billion in education cuts made by the previous administration in 2011.
Gov. Wolf’s historic investment in public schools has brought real progress, including a nearly 50 percent increase in the number of children able to attend pre-K; in increase in the graduation rate to 86 percent, which is above the national average; expanded enrollment in AP courses by 10 percent; and a significant boost to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs.
In addition, the Fair Funding Formula Gov. Wolf signed into law in June was a promising step toward improving funding equity among Pennsylvania districts.
Today, during his budget address before the legislature, Gov. Wolf emphasized that increasing education funding and improving equity took bipartisan effort: “Working together is how we enacted a fair funding formula in our education system that … makes sure that your ZIP code doesn’t determine what kind of education you can get,” Wolf said.
Gov. Wolf’s 2018-19 budget plan identifies ways to continue that progress, proposing public education investments that include:
- $100 million increase in basic education funding.
- $20 million increase in special education funding.
- $40 million increase in pre-kindergarten and Head Start funding.
- $60 million increase in career and technical education initiatives, including a $10 million increase in the career and technical education subsidy. Learn more about the governor’s career and technical education proposal.
The governor’s plan to pay for this new investment in public education includes a severance tax on the natural gas industry. Pennsylvania is currently the only energy producing state without such a tax on gas drilling.
For too long, the Pennsylvania legislature has sided with industry lobbyists rather than educators and students. Gov. Wolf has called for state legislators to realign their priorities.
“Gov. Wolf knows that investing in our public schools is one of the most important things state government can do,” said Dolores McCracken, a paraprofessional in the Council Rock School District and president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA).
“He’s said that from the moment he took office, and he’s never wavered in his commitment to Pennsylvania’s public schools and the 1.7 million students who learn there,” McCracken said.
“This budget proposal continues that commitment, and PSEA is proud to support it.”
PSEA also supported Gov. Wolf’s decision to reduce state standardized testing by 20 percent, decreasing the testing window from three weeks to two.
Keep track of what other governors are saying about public education in their state of the state and budget addresses.