Capitol Digest by Crisci Associates June 23, 2016
The Senate Rules and Executive Nominations Committee is scheduled to consider Senate Bill 1071 (Browne-R-Lehigh), the House-passed pension reform bill that moves school and state employees from defined benefit to defined contribution plans, in a meeting TODAY off the floor. The Senate is set to reconvene today at 1:00. The Committee meeting will occur sometime after that. A House Fiscal Note and summary is available.
From: Jeff Sheridan, Press Secretary
Subject: MEMO: Governor Wolf Makes Significant Compromises to Reach Agreement on 2016-2017 Budget
Date: June 22, 2016
Although Pennsylvania has adopted a new school funding formula, the state's distribution of dollars still largely disregards the actual needs of students. When dividing its largest pot of education cash, Pennsylvania provides the most funding (per pupil) to districts where enrollment has steeply declined over the past 25 years. Of the top 25 districts in terms of per-pupil state funding, all but one has seen enrollment drop since 1991, when the state implemented a "hold harmless" policy. Under that rule, the state stopped counting actual students when deciding how to allocate dollars. So districts that shrank did not see corresponding decreases in state aid, and, therefore, per-pupil funding increased. Each of the top five districts by state per-pupil funding have seen enrollment drops of at least 30 percent. As the interactive map above shows, many of the districts that receive the most per-pupil funding from the state are clustered in the rural western and central parts of the commonwealth — where population declines have been steep.
While the soda tax battle finally ended on Monday when Mayor Jim Kenney signed the long-contested sugary drinks tax into law, local business leaders are saying more needs to be done. They’re calling on the state to to pump an additional $90 million into funding for high-quality pre-K, the Philadelphia Business Journal reports. Representatives from the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the Main Line Chamber of Commerce, the African American Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. military say the investment would bridge the STEM workforce skills gap beginning in the formative pre-K years. The money would expand pre-K access for 7,400 more children and extend the school year for 6,200 students, CBS Philly reports. To back this position up, the leaders have cited STEM and Early Childhood — When Skills Take Root, a report released on Friday by Mission:Readiness, an education advocacy organization run by retired military leaders and Washington D.C.-based education advocacy group, ReadyNation.
Dan White is a senior economist at Moody's Analytics in West Chester.
Bucks County Courier Times By Gary Weckselblatt, staff writer Posted: Wednesday, June 22, 2016 6:00 pm
State mandates are eating into school district budgets and taxpayer wallets, according to a newly-releasedreport by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association. While the pension issue has been front and center as districts finalize their 2016-17 budgets before the June 30 deadline, public schools are required to comply with hundreds of mandates that determine what districts "are required to do, how they do it and, ultimately, how much will be spent in order to get it done," according to the report, School District Mandates: Their Impact on Public Education. "We're hoping this report brings to light that there are multiple ways to help school districts," said PSBA spokesman Steve Robinson. "While funding is always the most direct route, there's a flip side that would help if schools were allowed to opt out of some unfunded mandates if they need to." The 56-page report released Wednesday calls upon the General Assembly to lift unnecessary, cumbersome mandates and allow districts to apply for waivers in some cases. While the report cites pensions and charter schools as the two biggest money eaters, accounting for 14 cents of every dollar spent by schools in 2014-15, dozens of other mandates include:
Times Tribune by CLAYTON OVER, STAFF WRITER / PUBLISHED: JUNE 23, 2016
Includes staffing cuts through attrition
By Margaret Smykla June 22, 2016 1:50 PM
Post Gazette By Anne Cloonan June 22, 2016 10:47 PM
The Annie E. Casey Foundation's 2016 KIDS COUNT Data Book finds today's youth — Generation Z — are healthier and completing high school on time despite mounting economic inequality and increasingly unaffordable college tuition. Aided by smart policies and investments in prevention, a record number of teens are making positive choices. This year, the annual report focuses on key trends in child well-being in the post-recession years and offers recommendations for how policymakers can ensure all children are prepared for the future, based on the country’s shared values of opportunity, responsibility and security.