Historic education funding without raising taxes

Last week in Harrisburg, the state House of Representatives moved one step closer to passing Pennsylvania’s 2024-25 budget by approving H.B. 2370, which outlines a plan to properly fund public education in Pennsylvania. This bill is the result of months-long discussions and meetings of the bipartisan Basic Education Funding Commission, which was established after the Commonwealth Court ruled that Pennsylvania fails to adequately fund public education.

I voted yes on the plan, and it passed with bipartisan support, 107-94. If it passes the state Senate and is signed by the governor, the proposal would provide more funding to the school districts that I represent without raising taxes.

The plan would provide charter school savings to local schools in my district next year, including:

  • Old Forge: $277,734
  • Pittston: $789,498
  • Riverside: $325,048
  • Abington Heights: $395,917
  • Lackawanna Trail: $714,785
  • Wilkes-Barre: $1.93 million
  • Wyoming Area: $910,215

The bill also includes reforms to the way Pennsylvania’s cyber charter schools are funded. The bill would make the reimbursements to cyber charter schools fairer, since as the name implies cyber charter schools are conducted over the computer. They don’t need to pay for school buses, cafeterias, janitors, school nurses, or school buildings with utility costs like water and heat.

For years, cyber charter schools have been overpaid by local school districts using your property taxes. These cyber charter school reimbursement reforms would save local school districts in our area a combined $5.34 million, which were paid with your property taxes.

Despite what you may have heard, H.B. 2370 will not close any cyber charter school. Anybody who sends their child to a cyber charter school can still do that. But your property taxes shouldn’t be going to cyber charter schools so they can spend your hard-earned tax dollars on sports tickets and advertising.

Now we need the state Senate to see the importance of the cyber charter reforms and funding priorities as laid out in H.B. 2370, and all without raising taxes.