Over the last three budgets, Gov. Wolf has adopted the themes of “schools that teach, jobs that pay and government that works.” Though not using those exact phrases today, in his fourth budget address, Wolf proposed a $32.9 billion budget with those three tenets woven throughout.
In his address to the General Assembly today, Gov. Wolf noted that the number of children enrolled in pre-K programs has increased by nearly 50 percent during his tenure, and the number of students earning certificates in career and technical education fields has increased by nearly 33 percent. Hoping to build on these numbers, $225 million in new education investments are proposed for the upcoming fiscal year. This includes:
- $100M (1.7 percent increase) in basic education funding;
- $50M (80.6 percent increase) for career and technical education;
- $40M (17.4 percent increase) for early childhood education;
- $20M (1.8 percent increase) in special education funding; and
- $15M (3.3 percent increase) for the PA State System of Higher Education (PASSHE).
The focus within this year’s education funding proposal is to improve access for students and workers to education, training and career readiness programs. The Governor established a goal, based on employer demands, that by 2025 60 percent of Pennsylvanians have some form of postsecondary education and training. Today, less than 47 percent of Pennsylvanians have those skills.
Of note, the $50M increase for career and technical education includes $40M for the newly established PAsmart initiative. This initiative will fund new efforts to enhance career and technology programs to reach across state agencies to help Pennsylvanians prepare for successful careers. PAsmart will be a phased approach to further strengthen workforce efforts while aligning work with K-12 and higher education. The remaining $10M will go toward traditional career and technical education funding to continue to ensure that schools can offer programs that meet the demands of a 21st century global economy.