This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Gov. Tom Corbett will unveil his state spending plan at 11:30 a.m. today in Harrisburg. Education, along with transportation and pension reform, is expected to be a big focus of the budget proposal. Last week Corbett revealed his plan to privatize liquor stores and have the proceeds from new licenses — up to $1 billion — go toward funding public education.
The governor’s budget address can be viewed live on the Pennsylvania Cable Network’s website.
Update: A summary of the governor’s funding initiatives for education can be found below, taken from a statement from the governor’s office.
“We have moved beyond the age of the blackboard as new technologies tie every classroom to the world and have the potential to link every young life to a bright future,’’ Corbett said.
“My budget works to provide our public schools with enrichment funding to help them achieve academic excellence at all grade levels. It provides for enhanced learning opportunities, career-focused training and, most importantly, a safe learning environment.
“For the past two years, the commonwealth has invested more Pennsylvania tax dollars in basic education than at any time in our history. Yet once again, this year, we will be putting a record amount of state funding into basic education, $5.5 billion, starting with early childhood programs and going all the way through grade 12.’’
Other education funding initiatives include:
- Expanding funding for K-through-12 education, proposing an additional $90 million in Basic Education Funding, an increase of 1.7 percent over last year’s record funding levels, for a total of $5.5 billion, the highest in state history.
- Proposing more than $348 million each year in early childhood programs. This budget will add another $6.4 million toward our Pre-K Counts (increase of $4.5 million) and the Head Start Supplemental Assistance (increase of $1.9 million) programs. This money will give an additional 3,200 children and their families access to quality full and part-day programs as well as summer kindergarten readiness programs.
- Proposing level funding for higher education at nearly $1.6 billion, including support of student grants. Of that total amount, $937.9 million is divided among Pennsylvania’s state and state-related universities.
- An increase of $200,000 to the Community Education Councils, which bring higher education and training opportunities to rural areas, for a total of $2 million in funding.
- An increase of $897,000 for Pennsylvania Charter Schools for the Deaf and Blind, totaling nearly $41.5 million.
The Passport for Learning Block Grant
This proposal will mark an unprecedented $1 billion enrichment program that will be distributed over the next four years, allowing flexibility for school districts in four general areas:
- School safety grant to allow schools to invest in necessary safety and security measures to protect our children.
- “Ready by 3,’’ provides funds to establish, maintain or expand a quality, full-day kindergarten program that meets academic standards, or it can be used to enhance academic achievement in reading and math from kindergarten to third grade.
- Customized learning plans to allow students to learn at the pace and manner that best suits them.
- Science, technology, engineering and math remain critical to the continued advancement of our students, our state and our nation. The grant will provide funding to create or expand programs or activities that support science and math in grades six through 12.
The Passport for Learning Block Grant would be financed through the proceeds of privatizing the state liquor store system.
“Selling liquor is not a core function of government. Education is,’’ Corbett said. “That is why I have proposed that as we phase the commonwealth out of the liquor business we put that money toward education.’’
“This is our opportunity,’’ Corbett said, “and our children’s.’’