The Notebook: Pa. budget framework supports major funding boost for public schools

By Kevin McCorry

Sources in the Pennsylvania Capitol say that the framework reached Monday for a state budget agreement includes a $400 million increase to K-12 public education this year.

While $350 million would be funneled into the basic education subsidy, an additional $50 million would go to special education. Pre-K programming would also see a boost, but sources differed on the amounts.

The state’s budget for higher education would increase by 5 percent.

“This is the first time that we feel like we’re moving ahead, and everyone is on the same track — as opposed to having a solid deal or anything final,” said Jenn Kocher, spokeswoman for Senate Republicans. “Nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to.”

Gov. Wolf’s administration would not comment on any specifics. Spokesman Jeff Sheridan confirmed, though, that negotiations have progressed.

“We believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

A source close to the Wolf administration said that a framework had been reached for the 2016-17 school year as well. Under that scenario, $200 million more would be added to basic education, and special education and pre-K would each get an additional $50 million.

Neither Kocher nor a spokesman for House Republicans could verify those proposals.

Budget negotiations have dragged on for months after the June 30 deadline. Wolf, a Democrat, has prioritized a drastic increase in state education aid, as Republican leaders have balked at the package of tax increases that Wolf proposed to pay for it.

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