Philadelphia March 5, 2019 State Senator Art Haywood (D-Montgomery/Philadelphia) released the following statement following today’s budget hearing with the Department of Education:

“This morning I asked Education Department Secretary Rivera several questions concerning the state of education in the Commonwealth, including status of  fair funding of our public schools  and the amount of funding that goes into the incarceration versus higher education.

Governor Wolf proposed a special allocation of $14 million to raise teacher’s salaries to at least $45,000. I agree that with this minimum teacher salary level. However, only 180 school districts of the 501 in Pennsylvania would receive this money.  Many of these districts are already receiving more than districts that are underfunded. All basic education funding should go into a fair funding formula which is designed to help underfunded districts.  PA is the most inequitable state in the nation when it comes to school funding.  Fully funding the fair formula must be the top priority.

Further, concerning proposed higher education spending of $1.85 billion versus proposed incarceration spending of $2.6 billion, Secretary Rivera acknowledged that both state and federal incarceration spending outpaces the investments in higher education. This is unacceptable.  Our student loan level is the second highest in the nation.  This is also unacceptable.

My colleagues and the Department of Education need to maintain our focus on maximizing funding under the fair formula and supporting higher education.tangible.”