Education funding conflict or harmony on the way?

Education funding conflict or harmony on the way?

According to a newspaper article, education advocates are hoping that the results of last week’s gubernatorial election will pave the way for a boost in education spending  in the next few years.

One proponent stated “[the governor] has to create a narrative and a context for a ‘yes’ vote for revenues. He can do it now. I think this election gives him the ability to do that.”  However, a spokesman for the majority party in the General Assembly noted “that simply providing more tax dollars does not necessarily make more scholars.”

Since fiscal year 2015-16, funding for education has increased $1.5 billion from $11.1 billion to $12.6 billion (these figures do not include appropriations to Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education or state-related schools or for higher education financial aid.)  Of the 14 percent increase, half has been accounted for by contributions to the school employees retirement system, PSERS. After that come the boosts to basic education funding, which is driven through the student-weighted formula in Act 35 of 2016 which we wrote about in a Brief this summer.

So maybe there will be political wrangling and deal-making between the Democratic executive and Republican-controlled legislative branches. The article mentioned that school building capital needs may be an area that gets increased attention.  If a decision comes in the William Penn v. Pennsylvania Department of Education lawsuit in the next few years, that could even raise the possibility of an executive-legislative-judicial conflict if the courts try to grant itself a role in determining how to spend basic education dollars.