Governor Corbett Signs Budget that Invests a Record $12 Billion in Education

HARRISBURG – Gov. Tom Corbett today signed into law the 2014-15 state budget that invests a record $12 billion in state funding for students in Pennsylvania’s early, basic and postsecondary education systems.  This represents an increase of $323 million, or 2.8 percent, over last year’s budget.

“I am pleased with the additional investments that this budget makes into the students of Pennsylvania” Corbett said.  “This budget directs funding to areas that will support student achievement and ensure that students are prepared for postsecondary success, whether they choose to enter the workforce, further their education or enlist in the military.”

Since taking office, Corbett has increased funding for early, basic and postsecondary education from $10.8 billion to $11.9 billion – an increase of more than $1 billion.

Two of the Governor’s landmark initiatives are included in the final budget: the Ready to Learn Block Grant for public schools and the Ready to Succeed Scholarship that provides financial assistance to middle-income students pursuing a postsecondary education.

Combined, both programs invest an additional $105 million in students.

This budget also increased funding for special education by $20 million – the first increase in six years.

Early Education

This budget affirms Corbett’s commitment to early education by investing$374 million into high-quality pre-kindergarten programs for Pennsylvania’s youngest learners.  This is an increase of $19.5 million, or 5.5 percent, over last year.

Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts would receive $97.3 million, an increase of $10 million, or 11.5 percent.

Head Start Supplemental Assistance would receive $39.1 million.

Early Intervention, which provides support for students age three to five who have developmental disabilities, would receive $237.5 million.

Since taking office, the Governor has increased funding for early education programs by $72 million, or 24 percent.

State Support of Public Schools

The enacted budget allocates more than $10 billion in state funding for support of Pennsylvania’s public schools.  This represents an increase of $305 million, or 3 percent, over last year.

The budget includes one of the Governor’s signature education initiatives – the Ready to Learn Block Grant – that is designed to support programs and services that increase student achievement.  Half of this $200 million grant would be distributed through the former Accountability Block Grant, with the remaining funding allocated through a student-focused funding formula, which includes a school’s current population of students adjusted by its aid ratio, or relative wealth.  The formula also includes supplemental funding for students who are English language learners and economically disadvantaged students.

Schools can use their Ready to Learn Block Grant funding to enhance learning opportunities for students through initiatives, such as:

  • Pre-kindergarten to grade 3 curriculum alignment;
  • Ensuring that all students are academically performing at grade level by third grade in both reading and math;
  • Extended learning opportunities for supplemental and customized student instruction for pre-kindergarten to grade 3;
  • Training to support early literacy;
  • Supplemental instruction in biology, English language arts and algebra I;
  • Instructional coaches;
  • Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education;
  • Implementation of the State Literacy Plan; and
  • Hybrid learning.

This budget also provides $1.05 billion for special education, an increase of $20 million – the first increase in six years.  This additional funding will be distributed to schools based on categories of support for students with disabilities as outlined by the Special Education Funding Commission.

Additional funding for public schools includes:

  • Basic Education Funding – $5.53 billion.
  • Career and Technical Education – $62 million.
  • Career and Technical Education Equipment Grants – $3 million.
  • Approved Private Schools – $95.3 million.
  • Student transportation – $625.3 million.
  • School Employees’ Social Security – $500.8 million.
  • School Employees’ Retirement – $1.16 billion.
  • Pennsylvania Charter Schools for the Deaf and Blind – $42.8 million.
  • School Food Services – $32.5 million.

With these additional investments, total state support of public schools has increased by $1.5 billion, or 17.3 percent, since Governor Corbett took office.

Postsecondary Education

This budget also includes $1.6 billion for postsecondary education students and institutions.

To help offset the cost of postsecondary education, this budget includes $5 million for Corbett’s Ready to Succeed Scholarship initiative, which provides up to $2,000 to eligible students whose families earn up to $110,000.

In addition to income eligibility, students would need to demonstrate postsecondary academic merit to qualify for a scholarship in their sophomore, junior and senior year.

“This scholarship program will help to reduce the debt burden that many postsecondary education students across the commonwealth have upon graduation,” Corbett said.  “Oftentimes, middle-income students do not qualify for state grants and the Ready to Succeed Scholarship will change that practice by providing much-needed financial assistance to those pursuing higher education.  I am pleased the General Assembly included this program in the final budget.”

The Ready to Success Scholarship program would be administered by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency and would be in addition to the$345 million included in the budget for state grants for students.

The budget also provides funding to the state-owned and state-related universities:

  • State System of Higher Education – $412.8 million.
  • Pennsylvania State University – $214.1 million.
  • University of Pittsburgh – $136.3 million.
  • Temple University – $139.9 million.
  • Lincoln University – $13.2 million.
  • Pennsylvania College of Technology – $17.6 million – $2 million increase.
  • Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology – $12.3 million – $2 million increase.

Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges will receive a total of $264.5 million –$215.7 million for operations and $48.9 million for capital projects.  This represents an increase of $3.5 million over last year.

Public Libraries

This budget invests $61.1 million in Pennsylvania’s public libraries:

  • Public Library Subsidy – $53.5 million
  • Library Access – $3 million
  • Library Services for the Visually Impaired and Disabled – $2.6 million
  • State Library – $1.96 million

“This budget provides critical resources for students to academically grow and be globally competitive,” Corbett said.  “Every dollar we invest in education now will benefit the state’s long-term economic stability.”

Editor’s note: For additional information on the enacted 2014-15 budget for education, including estimated funding allocations for schools, and click on the “Education Budget: 2014-15 Enacted Education Budget” icon.

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