PA House Democrats Deliver: Investing in a Quality Education for PA Students

 Ensuring that Pennsylvania students have access to a quality public education is a top priority for the Pennsylvania House Democratic Caucus.

HARRISBURG, Dec. 28 – Ensuring that Pennsylvania students have access to a quality public education is a top priority for the Pennsylvania House Democratic Caucus. This year, House Democrats championed record investments in K-12 public education while starting action to fulfill their constitutional obligation to adequately and equitably fund public schools.

The 2023-24 state budget, which was finalized earlier this month, includes a record $567 million basic education funding increase for Pennsylvania school districts.

Additionally, the approved budget includes $175 million to fix school buildings to ensure that students, teachers and staff are learning and working in a safe environment. 

“For the first time in nearly a decade, the General Assembly has recognized the need for funding that allows school districts to address facility repairs and upgrades,” said House Education Committee Majority Chairman Peter Schweyer, D-Lehigh. “As a father of two in the Allentown School District, I have seen firsthand the need for funding so schools can provide the safe and comfortable learning environments that parents expect and children deserve.”

The approved budget also includes $100 million for school-based mental health resources for students, $46.5 million increase to provide universal free breakfast to 1.7 million Pennsylvania K-12 students and $10 million to strengthen the teacher workforce through student teacher stipends.

“No kid can learn on an empty stomach – but they come to school hungry for a variety of reasons, from financial instability to a hectic family schedule,” said Rep. Lisa Borowski, D-Delaware. “Funding universal free breakfast is a commonsense investment into their success and an investment into the future for all of us.”

However, with a year remaining in the 2023-24 legislative session, there is more that Pennsylvania could use to ensure that students have access to a quality public education.

Following a Commonwealth Court decision this year finding that the General Assembly failed for decades, under a majority of Republican control, to adequately and equitably fund public schools as required by the Pennsylvania Constitution, the Basic Education Funding Commission held a series of public hearings to gather important testimony from stakeholders across the state. The bipartisan and bicameral commission, which is tasked with providing recommendations for adequately and equitably funding our public schools, will submit a report with its findings in January, when the legislature will also begin discussions on the budget for the next fiscal year.

House Democrats also have passed numerous bills with bipartisan support to invest in education and address the teaching workforce shortage. They are currently awaiting action in the Pennsylvania Senate, including on:

  • Creating a Solar for Schools grant program to help the environment and create jobs (H.B. 1032).
  • Modernizing the cyber charter school law to protect students and taxpayers (H.B. 1422).
  • Bringing more young people to the profession through a Teacher Pipeline Scholarship program (H.B. 688).
  • Helping school districts fill teacher gaps through a new Grow Your Own Educator program (H.B. 141).

"I've been able to see firsthand the value that solar arrays bring by reducing costs for school districts and taxpayers, limiting our carbon footprint, and creating new jobs,” said Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler, D-Phila. “It’s a great return on investment of our taxpayer dollars, and it’s a great deal for local school districts to be able to save millions of dollars.”

Pennsylvania’s youngest learners deserve a quality early education in a safe environment, which is why House Democrats passed legislation with bipartisan support (H.B. 494) to protect children from accidental poisoning by requiring carbon monoxide detectors in child care facilities.

“Given that carbon monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas, it’s difficult to know if you’ve been exposed to it, and since the symptoms of exposure are similar to other common illnesses, carbon monoxide poisoning wouldn’t be the first ailment to come to mind at a daycare,” said Rep. Jeanne McNeill, D-Lehigh. “That’s why it is absolutely essential that child care centers are equipped with these detectors. This is a sensible safety precaution that needs to be implemented.”

In all, the House Democratic Majority advanced more than 200 bills in 2023 – an overwhelming amount with bipartisan support. In 2024, the caucus will continue to advance legislation to strengthen the economy for every Pennsylvanian.

Pennsylvania House Democrats are committed to ensuring better jobs, better schools and better communities for all Pennsylvanians. Putting people ahead of politics, House Democrats have led the charge to lower taxes, help workers save for retirement, put more teachers in local schools, and make communities safer. More information on these successful efforts is at