PA House approves education funding bill on slim margin, all Franklin/Fulton County Reps vote NO

11 June 2024- The Basic Education Funding Formula has been a topic for discussion by Pennsylvania legislators for more than a year and the PA House seems to have voted for what they see as a long term solution. House Bill 2370 was voted on by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives at 5:35pm on June 10th and is seen at least as a starting point, or complete solution, for a major funding problem.

That solution, while coming with bipartisan support, was shot down by most Republicans, passing on a slim margin of 107 yeas to 94 nays.

Franklin County Representatives Paul Schemel, Rob Kauffman, and Rich Irvin all voted against the bill as did Fulton/Bedford County Rep Jesse Topper. Topper, it should be added, is the Republican Chair of the House Education Committee and was a member of the Basic Education Funding Commission. That Commission tried to create a report that overhauled educational spending in the state after a recent Commonwealth Court decision deciding that the current formula was unconstitutional.

News Talk 1037FM sat down with Topper ahead of the vote last Friday, with that full interview below.

Other representatives, most notably Republicans who voted against the bill, didn’t mince words about their opposition.

Rep. Ryan Warner said after the bill’s passing in the chamber, that “this bill fails on every front. First and foremost, it fails to address the court’s ruling that our school funding system is unconstitutional. It fails to provide accountability and meaningful measures for student success. And it fails to ensure alternatives are readily available to students who struggle in our public schools.

“This proposal does nothing to fix the education funding formula in the Commonwealth. It still sets winners and losers, as districts with billions of dollars in reserves are set to receive MORE money from the state. The quality of our students’ education is still going to be determined by their ZIP codes. 

“The only truly equal way to fund education in the Commonwealth is to eliminate school property taxes at the local level. 

“Rather than throw more money at the problem, we should be taking bold steps to make transformational change to our education system.”

Republican Leader Bryan Cutler additionally took to the offensive, saying in a statement, that “the House Democrats’ basic education funding plan does nothing but double down on a failing education system that represents the inability of state and local leaders to prioritize outcomes-based learning and bring the needed transformational change to deliver on classroom success, which would truly provide for a student-first and family-focused system of education.

“While putting a massive burden on taxpayers, this legislation provides no accountability and no meaningful measures of success in a system that has taken increased funding year after year, but continually produced declining test scores and students unprepared to further their education or begin careers.

“On top of that, this proposal takes aim at Pennsylvania’s cyber charter schools to a degree that it would likely eliminate a meaningful school choice option that has proven successful for many Pennsylvania students and families, particularly those facing difficult situations or that need flexibility to find success.

“House Republicans have stood behind increasing basic education funding in every budget cycle. However, while this proposal may pass the House today, we all know the hard work of making the transformative change in education still awaits us. When that time comes House Republicans will continue our work in bringing true equity, accountability and meaningful achievement to all Pennsylvania schools and – most importantly – our students.”