Ciresi applauds education cost-saving reforms in budget proposal

HARRISBURG, Feb. 4 – State Rep. Joe Ciresi, D-Montgomery, released the following statement regarding Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed 2020-21 budget unveiled today:

“With a clear plan to reduce costs through comprehensive charter school reform, while increasing state funding for public education, this budget outlines a path for supporting our schools and providing property tax relief,” Ciresi said. “I am proud to be working with Governor Wolf as a partner in the push for education reform.”

The budget includes an additional $403 million for public education statewide, achieved through increased basic and special education funding and cost savings through charter school reform. The charter school reform that Ciresi and Wolf have partnered on will achieve close to $300 million in savings statewide. These reforms include using the same special education funding formula used by school districts and setting a data-driven statewide tuition rate for cyber charter attendance.

The local impact of this for the 146th District would be:

  • District-wide net increase of $3.4 million, including over $2.6 million in charter school cost savings:
    • Perkiomen Valley SD: $509,390
    • Pottsgrove SD: $703,768
    • Pottstown SD: $1.27 million
    • Spring-Ford Area SD: $914,374

“The budget also offers a plan to redesign the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education,” Ciresi said. “It paves the way for better systemwide coordination and a transition to shared services to reduce unnecessary duplication.”

These reforms would yield $80 million to $120 million in cost savings.

Other key provisions from the budget proposal include:

  • Creating a new $204 million scholarship program at PASSHE for full-time students who commit to remaining and working in Pennsylvania after graduation, while investing an additional $30 million into the PHEAA state grant program for financial assistance.
  • Investing $1 billion in grants to schools to remediate lead and asbestos problems through the Redevelopment and Capital Assistance Program, ensuring that students can learn and teachers can teach in a safe and healthy environment.
  • Providing an additional $30 million (11%) for early childhood education, giving another 3,267 children access to high-quality early learning.
  • Helping our most vulnerable citizens through a $24 million increase for home and community-based services, moving 100 individuals off the emergency waitlist for the Consolidated Waiver and 732 individuals from the emergency waitlist for the Community Living Waiver.
  • Increasing funding for the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, on which Rep. Ciresi serves, by $1.5 million, including $500,000 for the Creative Communities Initiative and $1 million to increase support to rural and African-American, Latinx, Asian, Native American and Hispanic communities.
  • Proposing to fully fund the actuarial required contribution for the state pension systems for the fifth consecutive year, as Pennsylvania works on paying down the existing unfunded liability while previously enacted pension reforms reduce costs moving forward.