July 5 – The Pennsylvania Senate passed a $45.5 billion spending package for the state over the weekend that includes $100 million for public school vouchers.
It was largely a party-line vote, where all Republicans voted yes. One Democrat voted with the Republicans.
Attorney Clint Barkdoll said, “It also has a record spending increase there for public schools in Pennsylvania. So that’s going to go to the House today. The thinking is that votes aren’t in the House to pass this because the Democrats don’t like that school voucher package, which by the way Governor Shapiro is supporting. So I think you’re going to see some real horse trading over the next day or two, but ultimately, they will get this passed. I don’t know if it’ll be this week or next week, but it looks like they’re pretty close.”
Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM pointed out, “The Senate is notoriously bad with their horse trading. I don’t trust the GOP to not give away the farm. They’ll trumpet the vouchers, well that’s only a certain amount of schools are even getting it, the worst failing. I think all parents deserve to have a voucher. I think back to Act 77 and how ridiculously damaging that was, I think, to fair voting in our state.”
Barkdoll added, “And still no efforts afoot to reform property taxes, for example, which we’ve heard about for years. This voucher thing is interesting, because it’s $100 million. Now that’s a lot of money. But when you compare that to a 45 and a half billion dollar budget, it’s really a fraction of the overall budget being earmarked for vouchers. My guess is that both Shapiro and these Senate Republicans would nonetheless say, this is historic. I mean, this is a start, the idea being that they could keep expanding it in years to come. We know this has been kicked around for years and it’s never made it to the finish line, but it really does look like this time it’s going to happen. But the problem is that when you look at how it’s structured, it’s a very small percentage of school districts in Pennsylvania that would be affected by this.”
Reporting came out on Monday that showed Pennsylvania’s revenue is up for the month of June.
Barkdoll said the revenue “has far exceeded all expectations and for the end of the fiscal year, which finished June 30, the state was $1.3 billion, that’s over 3% above its projected estimate. So that’s good news for Pennsylvania. How that plays in the budget, we’ll see.”