Longietti will vote to support basic, special and higher education

HARRISBURG, June 30 – State Rep. Mark Longietti, D-Mercer, will vote tonight to pass S.B. 1073, the general appropriations bill for Pennsylvania’s fiscal year that begins tomorrow.

“This budget represents a true compromise between Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate, and Governor Wolf’s office,” Longietti said. “It provides a solid investment in our education system, including basic, special and higher education, without a broad-based tax increase that hits our working families hardest.”

The legislation would go to Gov. Tom Wolf to be signed into law if it passes the House.

The budget bill contains a $200 million increase for basic education, a $20 million increase in special education and a $40 million increase in higher education. The higher education funding will benefit state-related universities, the 14 members of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education and the state’s 14 community colleges by providing a 2.5-percent increase in funding. Additionally, 2.5-percent increases will go to institutional grants benefiting private colleges and universities, and to the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency that benefits students attending public and private institutions.

Early childhood education funding received a $30 million increase and $15 million of new funding was included to fight Pennsylvania’s growing opioid epidemic.

“Since the devastating cuts of the previous administration, our education system has been struggling to make ends meet and provide the quality education our students deserve,” Longietti said. “We’ve lost teachers, programs and courses, and have seen property taxes increase. None of that is acceptable and we must continue to work in a bipartisan fashion to ensure our children receive the education they deserve without forcing schools to balance their books on the backs of homeowners.”

Schools within the 7th Legislative District would receive these increases for basic education funding:

  • Farrell School District, a 2.7-percent increase of $192,192;
  • Greenville Area School District, a 2.4-percent increase of $163,794;
  • Hermitage School District, a 2.5-percent increase of $146,778;
  • Reynolds School District, a 1.4-percent increase of $111,169;
  • Sharon City School District, a 4.5-percent increase of $634,213;
  • Sharpsville Area School District, a 2.4-percent increase of $148,173; and
  • West Middlesex School District, a 2.5-percent increase of $132,603.

School districts will receive different percentage increases based upon the new Basic Education Funding Formula, which dispenses increases in state support based upon student counts and factors such as number of students living in poverty and deep poverty, which require additional support.

“The entire budget process last year was partisan, divided and benefited exactly no one, least of all the people of Pennsylvania,” Longietti said. “I consistently spoke out against how that process played out, but I’m glad that this year all sides realized the mistakes that were made and avoided them. The result was a budget that, while not perfect, is a much better alternative to what we’ve seen the past few years and will provide direct benefits to our constituents.”