Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed budget for fiscal 2016-17 makes smart and strategic investments that Pennsylvania’s children need to succeed, Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children President and CEO Joan Benso said today.
“The governor is proposing much-needed additional investments in child welfare, home visiting programs, child care and pre-k-12 education,” Benso said. “Pennsylvania is at a challenging crossroads where we need to decide what direction we want to go as a commonwealth. The smart choice for our children and all Pennsylvanians is to prioritize investments in our children – investments that pay off for all of us – and generate the revenues necessary to fund these investments.”
The spending plan Gov. Wolf proposed today would make common-sense investments in our students and schools, including a $200 million increase in basic education funding and an additional $50 million in special education funding. Just as importantly, the governor is calling for basic education funds to be distributed using a formula proposed last year by the Basic Education Funding Commission – a formula that includes many of the critical elements necessary to ensure all students have a chance to succeed no matter where they live.
“While a student-driven funding formula and increases in basic education funding are sorely needed every year, the commitment to boosting Pennsylvania’s investments in basic education must be sustained over multiple fiscal years,” Benso said. “We remain hopeful that the governor and General Assembly can still enact the compromise plan for this fiscal year that invests an additional $377 million to fix our broken school funding system, along with the increase proposed for next year.”
The governor also has proposed sound investments in our youngest learners, including:
- $120 million in additional funding over two years for high-quality pre-k, which includes the $30 million in new funding already enacted for the second half of the current school year.
- $12 million in new child care funding to serve approximately 2,200 more children in 2016-17. “Many Pennsylvania children ages 5 and under live with parents whose work schedules necessitate child care, and increasing access to safe, accessible and affordable child care helps keep Pennsylvania parents working and our commonwealth’s economy running,” Benso noted.
- An additional $10 million to serve 1,900 more children through evidence-based home visiting programs, building on existing state and federal efforts to provide these services. Evidence-based home visiting programs allow nurses and other trained professionals to visit families with infants and toddlers to provide parent education and support and promote children’s health, well-being, learning and development.
Gov. Wolf also is proposing nearly $200 million in additional child welfare funding to ensure 12 months of support to counties, a critical investment to help ensure counties have the resources they need to help protect children from abuse and neglect and provide essential services to families.
“In any year, Pennsylvania’s budget is a reflection of who we are as a commonwealth and where our priorities lie,” Benso said. “The governor has outlined a spending plan for the coming year that prioritizes our children, and it is time to make the tough choices that will ensure this budget becomes a reality. We owe our kids nothing less.”