Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, the only statewide advocacy organization with a public policy agenda that spans the life of a child from birth to adulthood, released the following statement from President and CEO Kari King regarding Governor Wolf’s 2019-20 state budget proposal:
“Our organization seeks results that are achievable and part of that is working with policymakers from both sides of the aisle to make Pennsylvania one of the top states to be a child and to raise a child. The governor unveiled a pragmatic budget proposal that strikes the right tone for working on behalf of the state’s 2.8 million children, who are counting on policymakers to develop public policies that are in their best interest.
“There are 74 career and technical education centers educating 55,000 students across the Commonwealth. We recently released a report urging funding increases in career and technical education and having visited CTCs across the state, we have seen firsthand how crucial this piece of the pie is for preparing our future workforce to make meaningful contributions to our economy. The governor prioritized CTE by proposing a $10 million increase because all students who wish to be career-ready after graduation should have access to these programs.
“In the last decade the state share of special education funding has fallen while costs have increased. We support the proposed $50 million increase for special education, as it will help schools cover the costs associated with providing these critical supports for kids.
“In addition, PPC supports the proposed $168 million increase for basic education funding that the governor included in his address. These dollars will be driven through the basic education funding formula and is a step in the right direction to increase the state’s share of funding.
“No child gets a do-over and every dollar invested in high-quality pre-k reaps significant cost savings in the future in the form of less public spending on special education, safety net programs and criminal justice. The governor’s proposed $50 million increase for pre-k will expand access and allow thousands more early learners to experience this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“Evidence-based home visiting is a research-proven tool to support the development and safety of our most vulnerable children and their families. The $5 million increase the governor proposed for these programs is just a small step to address the significant unmet need that still exists. We are appreciative of the investment and will work with policymakers to maximize this opportunity to invest in the children and families that need it the most.
“The most critical period of brain development is in the first three years of life and, while federal funding for high-quality child care programs is robust, more is needed at the state level to ensure these programs are affordable and all children have access to them. We hope that during budget negotiations policymakers will recognize that investing in high-quality child care will help all children grow, learn and succeed.
“Due to recent federal action, the state is now required to pick up additional costs associated with the CHIP program as of the 2020-21 federal fiscal year, and this state budget shows a commitment to covering those added costs. The state stepping in to pick up the tab will ensure that the health care coverage and benefits CHIP provides to children are not diminished.
“Finally, we are pleased to see continued support of our county-administered child welfare system, with the governor proposing a nearly $34 million increase.”