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AFT Pennsylvania Statement on Shapiro Budget Proposal

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, February 6, 2024



Plymouth Meeting, PA, Tuesday, February 6, 2024 – 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 Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro’s 2024 Budget Address:

“We have a renewed optimism for the future of public education in Pennsylvania after Governor Shapiro’s budget proposal today.

“After decades of disinvestment, we are tremendously pleased that the Governor appears to be following the recommendations of the Basic Education Funding Commission and proposing a hefty $1.1 billion investment in basic education funding, including nearly $900 million toward the $5.2 billion adequacy gap the Commission identified.

“It’s important that we invest in our most vulnerable students, so an additional $50 million for special education is a welcome increase to ensure our school districts can provide for those students with special needs and disabilities.

“In the spirit of not just educating our students, but also providing the wraparound services they need to have an easier time learning, $100 million for more mental health resources and $3 million for no-cost menstrual hygiene products are important steps.

“After years and years of cyber charters ripping off the taxpayers and diminishing our ability to provide equitable education for all students, we applaud Governor Shapiro’s willingness to standardize tuition for cyber charters, which will provide an additional $262 million a year back into the public school system.

“In the Governor’s address, he specifically singled out Scranton School District as in need of facilities improvements so that our students are learning in and our educators are working in buildings that are safe. As the union representing Scranton educators and many others whose districts have buildings in disrepair, $1.5 billion over five years is a huge investment in facilities.

“However, diverting taxpayer dollars from public schools to private and religious institutions which are allowed to discriminate against students and families based on disabilities, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender express remain unacceptable. The data on such programs are clear: they typically benefit wealthy families whose students have never attended a public school to begin with and they have been shown to be detrimental to student achievement. These private schools are not held to the same transparency or accountability standards as public schools and should not be provided public funds ever.

“Governor Shapiro’s attention to the affordability of higher education in Pennsylvania combined with his plan to provide a 15% increase to PASSHE and community college funding over last year are very welcome after years of unpredictability and partisan games, especially for state-related institutions like Temple University.

“From investing in K-12 basic education to addressing the teacher shortage, funding school facilities improvements, to creating tuition transparency for cyber charters, and investing in higher education, Governor Shapiro is on the right track when it comes to education. We look forward to working with him and legislators in both parties in both chambers of the General Assembly to make these investments reality and ensure the final product does not stray from the stated mission.”


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