State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

House passes plan to redevelop school funding formula

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Jan 15, 2014 6:34 PM
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A plan that could get lawmakers back to doling out education funding based on a formula, something schools advocates have urged for years, has passed the state House.

The measure would create a commission to study education funding and recommend a funding formula. A resulting formula would only apply to any funding increases, and it would be up to the Legislature to enact.

Lawmakers briefly relied on a funding formula drafted under former Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell to smooth out disparities among school districts. It hasn't been used since Gov. Corbett came into office, and House Minority Leader Frank Dermody says it should return.

"All of us should lament the fact that we even need this bill," Dermody said. "It's a sad commentary on our state that we have to once again try to establish a fair and equitable funding formula for basic education and our 500 school districts."

The Republican measure passed with overwhelming, bipartisan support. Still, House lawmakers spent more than half an hour rehashing their debate over cuts to education, which Republicans say can be attributed to the disappearance of federal stimulus funds used during Rendell's tenure to prop up education budgets. Democrats say the 2011 cuts could have been avoided by the Corbett administration.

Rep. Bill Adolph (R-Delaware), chair of the House Appropriations Committee, chided Democrats for pinning blame on Republicans.

"Before they start screaming about what we haven't done, they have to take a look to see what they did in the years that they were getting federal stimulus funding," Adolph said, "and they still did not fund based upon the formula that they talked about."

The measure, with a House vote of 187 to 9, passed. It now heads to the Senate for consideration. The move comes the same week Democrats urged for a return to using a funding formula for schools. Advocates say, in absence of a formula, certain school districts have received more funding based on their political power of their legislators.


Published in State House Sound Bites

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