Governor Signs 2018-19 Budget Ahead of June 30 Deadline (June 25, 2018)

On Friday, June 22nd, Gov. Tom Wolf signed a $32.7 billion budget package for 2018-19, over a week ahead of the June 30th due date. The budget contains no broad-based tax or fee increases, but it increases spending by $700 million, or 2 percent, mainly for schools, pensions, human services, and prisons. $70 million is provided for school safety funding, with $7.5 million being earmarked for community anti-violence efforts. $800 million is included in the budget for Medicaid.

PA School Safety Task Force Issues Findings (June 27, 2018)

On Tuesday, June 26, 2018, the Wolf administration issued its findings from six regional school safety task force field hearings held since February. The task force included participants such as teachers, school nurses, school administrators, parent-teacher associations, and students. Hundreds of comments were also submitted online.
Through seeking information as to how the state can help handle mass shootings and threats, improve school building safety, and meet the physical and mental health needs of students, it was determined that students need to be taught social and emotional learning strategies early in school and need better access to mental health services. It was also determined that schools need more nurses, social workers, and psychologists. Schools and students also need better connection to the community, its organizations, and law enforcement.
In addition, school officials asked for an increase in state funding for safety purposes, more guidance on the most effective school safety strategies, additional training for staff on how to deal with active shooters, and training regarding how to best address the social and emotional needs of students.

A more complete report is expected at the end of the summer.

Governor Wolf Signs School Safety Legislation (June 25, 2018)

On Friday, June 22nd, Governor Tom Wolf signed school safety legislation after it passed the House and Senate as part of a broader 2018-19 budget package.

The bill provides for school safety grants and a program for the anonymous reporting of dangerous activities or threats of violence in schools. Safe to Say, is an anonymous reporting program that is modeled on a Colorado program that was created after the Columbine school shooting. It will be administered by the state attorney general’s office, which would relay reports to law enforcement. Under the bill, the PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency will also create a new committee to develop an assessment of school safety and security that will be used to recommend improvements to school districts.

CHIP Funding Survives as Senate Narrowly Rejects Trump Rescission Package (June 22, 2018)

On Wednesday, June 20, 2018, the Senate narrowly rejected a funding rescission bill, 50-48, that aimed to pull back about $15 billion in previously appropriated government funding. The rescission package had already passed the House and, if it had passed, the bill would have clawed back billions of dollars from CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program), affordable housing investments, infrastructure, rural development and innovative energy programs.

 

US House Votes to Slash CHIP Funding (June 15, 2018)

Last week, the US House of Representatives voted 210-206 to approve a package revoking nearly $7 billion in funding reserved for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The House vote last week supported a $15 billion rescission package proposed earlier this year by President Trump. Nearly half of that rescission package comes from CHIP, which provides health care to children from low-income families. The package now goes to the US Senate.