House votes to block Wolf's additional funding to schools
Republicans controlling Pennsylvania's House of Representatives are trying to block Gov. Tom Wolf's use of a funding formula that provides additional money to schools — including those in the York City School District — that were most burdened by past education spending cuts.
House members last week voted, mostly along party lines, to amend the fiscal code bill, a key component of the various bills that make up a state budget.
At issue is the hybrid school funding formula the governor used last month in releasing emergency funding while wielding his line-item veto on the overall state budget. The hybrid formula is based in part on recommendations of the Basic Education Funding Commission and partly on a restorative formula proposed by the Wolf administration.
The fiscal code bill passed by the House on Jan. 12 excluded the restorative component and calls for distributing from a pool of funding significantly less than what Wolf had hoped to provide schools, said Rep. Kevin Schreiber, D-York City.
"This part of the formula looks to restore funding to school districts that were hardest hit during the Corbett cuts, which were the traditionally poorer school districts, York City included," he said. "York City saw significant reductions and, like many schools, has been financially burdened over the last several years. The restorative aspect looks to get these schools back on par."
York City School District officials did not return calls requesting comment.
Schreiber said Wolf's plan would give school districts in York County $6.9 million more compared to the Republican proposal. He added the previously proposed framework on which Wolf is basing his allocations would boost funding to local districts by $13 million, or a 7.2 percent increase, while the latest proposed fiscal code implements only a $6 million, or 3.2 percent, increase.
Republicans said because that proposal was part of the larger budget agreement that crashed in December, Wolf lacks the authority to use it.
York County's Republican representatives released a joint statement following the passage of the fiscal code bill, saying it would increase state education spending by an additional $2.5 billion, which will be used to reimburse school districts for construction projects and would bring state education spending to nearly $14 billion.
The statement released by Reps. Seth Grove, R-Dover, Kate Klunk, R-Hanover, Kristin Phillips-Hill, R-York Township, Stan Saylor, R-Red Lion, and Mike Regan, R-Dillsburg said, "This legislation also introduces fair funding formulas that will benefit York County School Districts and taxpayers. York County’s own governor wanted to send the lion’s share of state funding to Philadelphia, but this fiscal code would distribute funds in a more equitable manner."
The bill is currently in the Senate awaiting further action.
— Reach Jessica Schladebeck at email@example.com.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.