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Plymouth Meeting, PA– Arthur Steinberg, President of AFT Pennsylvania, issued the following statement on behalf of the more than 36,000 members of the Commonwealth’s statewide affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers on Tuesday following Governor Shapiro’s inaugural budget address:

“Throughout Governor Shapiro’s inaugural budget address, he made his priorities clear: he hopes to help all Pennsylvanians get ahead and stay ahead, from children in pre-K to seniors living on a fixed income. It is a forward-looking proposal with several encouraging facets.

“First, it is heartening to see that Governor Shapiro will continue to increase Basic Education Funding, in this budget, by over half a billion dollars and an over-$100 million increase in Special Education Funding. Ensuring that all students have access to free breakfast, regardless of income, is especially important for ensuring our students are set up for success throughout the school day.

“As a member of the Fund Our Facilities Coalition, we are especially proud to see Governor Shapiro’s proposed a half billion dollar investment over five years in grants for schools to make environmental repairs and improvements. To reiterate something the Governor said in his speech, our students should have world-class facilities that are safe and healthy; it is impossible to expect them to learn in buildings that are toxic and/or falling apart.

“To help ensure our students are learning at their best, $100 million in funding to connect students and staff to mental health services and to develop a pipeline of trained school-based mental health professionals for future generations is an excellent step toward addressing so many of the underlying issues that make learning difficult for so many.

“Finally, Governor Shapiro’s proposed $60 million increase in funding for higher education includes over $5 million for community colleges to help increase postsecondary education access and completion.

“We look forward to the upcoming discussion between the Governor and the legislature on how to enact a final budget that will help move Pennsylvania forward.”