O’Mara applauds Shapiro’s budget proposal, including measures on education funding reform and boosting investments in public transit

HARRISBURG, Feb. 6 — Following Gov. Josh Shapiro’s budget address, state Rep. Jennifer O’Mara praised some key elements that would particularly benefit her Delaware County district – such as investments into all levels of education and added support for public transit.

Shapiro’s proposal includes a historic $1.1 billion increase in education funding as well as an additional $300 million for school building improvements. O’Mara said this aligns with the recent report released by the Basic Education Funding Commission, which offers recommendations on how to rectify Pennsylvania's flawed school funding formula, and the state’s constitutional obligation to provide every child with a quality education.

“Many of our schools here in Delco lack air conditioning, creating uncomfortable environments for learning during the spring and fall. Some schools ran out of space and hold classes in trailers. This critical funding would help address these issues,” O’Mara said. “The Basic Education Funding Commission provided an outline for how to meet our constitutional requirement to equitably fund public education and I am thrilled to see Governor Shapiro put that in his budget proposal.”

Shapiro also revealed a new blueprint for higher education. His proposal creates a new governance system that combines community colleges and PASSHE schools that would receive $975 million in funding this year, a 15% increase from last year. Additionally, as a board member of PHEAA, O’Mara said she’s thrilled to see the planned investment in 2025-2026 in PHEAA grants.

“When the state can adequately fund higher education, it makes pursuing a degree a more attainable goal for Pennsylvanians. Students shouldn’t have to take on life changing debt in exchange for an education, so including financial aid in this proposal as well has real potential to increase accessibility to post-secondary education options,” O’Mara said.

O’Mara also added that Shapiro’s proposal to increase public transit funding by $1.5 billion over the next five years is something that hasn’t been theorized in the last decade. Under Shapiro’s plan, SEPTA would see a $1.6 million increase for Fiscal Year 2024-25, bringing their total state funding to $1 billion. This would also be joined by a 15% match from local southeast counties, allowing SEPTA to not only keep all services and maintain the current fares but also make improvements to the system.

Other highlights from the governor’s proposal that O’Mara supports include:

  • $2.5 million increase to combat and reduce maternal mortality.
  • Gun violence reduction efforts including:
    • $1 million to establish the Office of Gun Violence in the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
    • $37.5 million for a new Gun Violence Investigation and Prosecution appropriation to continue enhanced law enforcement response to gun violence.
    • $1 million for a new Firearm Injury Prevention program.
    • $30 million increase for Fire and Emergency Medical Services grants through the Office of the State Fire Commissioner.
  • $3 million to provide feminine hygiene products in schools.

“All of these investments will bring better services, better education, and better jobs to Delaware County, all while maintaining a healthy surplus and without raising taxes. I look forward to working with my colleagues in both chambers and the governor as we continue the budget process,” O’Mara said.