Education funding seems to be the sticking point in the PA budget

June 25 – With just days left for the Pennsylvania budget to be finalized – the deadline is June 30 – this is the time when lawmakers zero in on the details of what Governor Josh Shapiro presented in early February. 

Apparently education funding is one of the issues grinding the passage to a halt. 

Overall, the 2024-25 budget total about $48 million with education being a huge focus. 

It would include a $1 billion spend in various education programs in the Keystone State. 

Attorney Clint Barkdoll said it’s “not clear what might unbreak this log jam on the education funding piece.”

Legalizing recreational marijuana is also in the discussion.  

Barkdoll noted, “I thought it was also interesting yesterday you saw the bipartisan rollout over 200 pages from the House to legalize recreational marijuana. Well, why is that relevant? We know historically, there’s a lot of these collateral issues that will tend to piggyback their way into the budget process. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this bipartisan House Bill was rolled out yesterday on the eve of the budget needing to be passed. Might you see legalized marijuana get through as part of the budget package, even though it’s technically not part of the budget? Might you see minimum wage find its way into the budget? So there’s going to be a lot of scrambling going on the next five, six days to see if they can meet this deadline.”

Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM said, “It’s a little frightening to me what might be used as a negotiating tool. We’ve gotten some horrific things done in our laws in Pennsylvania, when that has been the case. I really wish our legislators would stop paying attention to just some advocacy groups who support them so strongly, and look more at the long term consequences for the people of the state. Unfortunately, THC has been very well propelled to people thinking it’s harmless in this country by the activists who’ve been pushing it for years. We have a lot of states who’ve picked it up. It’s not harmless. The costs are horrific compared to what the benefits are. Even the economic, so called benefits of it get outweighed by the opportunity costs down the road. But unfortunately, these are the kind of situations where bad law can quickly be activated and put into place. I’m sad that we push everything into this crisis deadline. We haven’t taken our time to actually understand these things, and that’s how we get bad law.” 

Barkdoll said, “We know historically, we’ve seen this movie many times before, when it’s crunch time on the budget, there’s all of these goodies that get inserted into processes that are not related to the budget. If you look at this House bill yesterday, they break down the allocation. There’s all these projections, of course, of all the additional tax revenue this would create. This House bill allocates where that money would go, ranging from a percentage that would go to funding that public defender program that was part of last year’s budget to various other things across the state, and there’s already the bipartisan legalized marijuana bill pending in the Senate. So we’ll see what might happen with this over the next few days.”