Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Wolf Releases Emergency Funds to PA Schools

Andrea Sears, Public News Service 

Gov. Tom Wolf will release six months of school funding. (Gov. Tom Wolf/Flickr)
Gov. Tom Wolf will release six months of school funding. (Gov. Tom Wolf/Flickr)
HARRISBURG, Pa. - Schools and social-service agencies finally are going to get some state funds, but the budget battles aren't over yet.

Gov. Tom Wolf on Tuesday said he would issue line-item vetoes on portions of the budget approved by the Legislature late last week. Calling it "a ridiculous effort in budget futility," Wolf called on legislators to return to Harrisburg and finish the job.

"In the meantime, I'm vetoing their $95 million cut to education," says Wolf. "I'm also vetoing other items that they don't pay for in their so-called budget."

Wolf said he would release six months of state funding for schools and social-service agencies on an emergency basis, as well as federal education dollars that have not been disbursed.

The governor and Legislature had agreed to a budget compromise that passed in the Senate but wasn't brought up for a final vote in the House before legislators went home for the holidays.

Deborah Gordon Klehr, director of the Education Law Center, says the money being released by the governor does include $30 million in increases for early childhood and special education.

"This is not the full amount that had been agreed to between the governor and the Legislature earlier," she says. "But it reflects an understanding that our schools cannot remain open without any funding."

Klehr says even the compromise budget was far short of the amount of funding that schools need, but she calls it a step in the right direction.

"Everyone needs to return to Harrisburg and to the negotiating table immediately," she says. "A full budget must be passed as soon as possible that makes the needed investment in our children and reflects Pennsylvania's values."

With no state funding coming in, school districts statewide were forced to borrow more than $430 million over the last two months to keep their doors open.

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