How can the PA budget be held up over helping the poorest schools?

July 24 – The Pennsylvania state budget should have been passed and approved on July 1. We’re now 24 days overdue for a budget in this state. 

While technically the PA House and Senate voted for a budget, different promises were made by Governor Josh Shapiro to different sides of the aisle and when it comes down to passing the nuts and bolts of the budget – the actual monetary figures – things could get a little tricky. 

Also keep in mind, Shapiro hasn’t signed anything. 

One of the major sticking points is the $100 million addition of the Lifeline Scholarship Program, which would give students in the lowest performing 15 percent of schools the money they would need to put toward a school of their choice. 

Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM pointed out, “$100 million holding up a $45 billion budget here in Pennsylvania because somebody doesn’t have the testicular fortitude, namely the governor to stand up to the unions and fulfill his promise to the worst schools in Pennsylvania and the poorest of poor families looking to get out of abject poverty. The poorest of the poor, the most in pain families and the worst of the worst when it comes to schools that these families are subjected to and we can’t get this done.”

Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM added, “250 times lower than the federal poverty limit. That’s the economy it has to be within the lowest 15 percent of schools. So it’s a subset within a subset.”

Attorney Clint Barkdoll confirmed, “It’s the poorest of the poor and it really is limited, If you look at those maps, largely to the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh areas. There are a few districts scattered around the state beyond that, but it is the poorest of the poor.”

Add to that, the voucher program has incredible public approval – more than 70 percent of Pennsylvanians support the program. 

Barkdoll said, “That’s what makes this extraordinary that between the House and Governor Shapiro, they’ve not been able to pull this together. Everybody’s in recess for roughly another two months in Harrisburg, so nothing is going to get done on this.” 

There has been reporting over the weekend from school districts saying they can hold on for a while without state funding, but they’re going to have to start scrambling soon. 

Barkdoll said, “The Patriot News over the weekend, they interviewed some county commissioners around the state including right up here in Cumberland. County. Some of those commissioners on the record are saying they are within a few weeks of just having to cut programs when it comes to mental health and other social services. They’re simply not set up to keep extending funding for these services without that state subsidy. So again, people are going along right now. We’re about three weeks into it. Things seemingly are okay, but this is going to get worse and worse as we get into August and September with no budget.”