Gov. Wolf Releases Proposed 2020-21 Budget (February 4, 2020)

On Tuesday, February 4, 2020, Governor Tom Wolf released his proposed 2020-21 budget. Those parts of the budget that focus on education include:

  • A proposed increase of $100 million for basic education funding (BEF). Thus, the total appropriation for BEF to $6.85 billion. The funding formula will be used to distribute any new monies.
  • The proposed budget provides a $14 million increase for school employee Social Security payments.
  • The proposed budget level funds ($268 million) for the Ready to Learn Block Grant to be allocated as per 2019-20 appropriations. 
  • The budget provides an increase of $25 million to be distributed through the special education funding formula. Proposed special education funding also includes over $90 million for core services funding to intermediate units, contingency funding, institutionalized children’s program funding, special education for students who are wards of state, and special education for out of state placements.
  • Funding for career and technical education (CTE) programs remains level at $99 million, as does funding for CTE Equipment Grants ($5.5 million).
  • The proposed budget provides $15 million for the School Safety and Security Fund, which shows a $60 million cut from the current budget. 
  • Proposed funding for state and federal testing programs is level ($48.9 million).
  • The proposed budget provides an increase of $500,000 in professional development funding.
  • The proposed budget eliminates funding for trauma-informed education.
  • Pupil transportation is level funded ($549 million), as is funding for nonpublic pupil transportation ($79.4 million).
  • Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts will receive a $25 million increase, early intervention programs will receive an $11 million increase and the Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program will receive a $5 million increase. 
  • The 2020-21 budget proposes comprehensive Charter School Law reform that estimates a $280 million per year savings for school districts by applying the special education formula to all charter schools; establishing a statewide cyber charter tuition rate of $9,500 per student/year; and other measures. 
  • The budget includes a new mandate by calling for all public schools to provide universal, full-day kindergarten programs for all students. Although districts are not mandated to provide kindergarten, currently 82% of PA kindergartners are enrolled in full-day programs. School districts that can demonstrate capacity challenges that inhibit their ability to expand to full-day kindergarten will be able to apply to PDE for a hardship waiver along with a plan for building out future capacity.
  • The proposed budget provides for an additional $119 million towards the state’s share of schools employee pension costs. 

Thanks to PSBA for being a source of information.