HARRISBURG – The House of Representatives [Wednesday] agreed to take a fresh look at examining Pennsylvania’s distribution of state dollars for basic education by passing legislation authored by Rep. Bernie O’Neill (R-Bucks).
“I am gratified by the bipartisan support for an initiative that will help us ensure our schools have the ability to provide a quality education for all of our students with the goal of more fairly distributing our state dollars for basic education,” said O’Neill.
House Bill 1738 establishes a bipartisan commission to study and make recommendations for a new formula for distributing state funding to K-12 education.
Operating in a similar manner to the Special Education Funding Formula Commission created under O’Neill’s House Bill 2 (Act 3 of 2013), the commission to study the basic education formula would be comprised of equal representation from the House and Senate majority and minority caucuses, along with representatives from the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the governor’s administration.
“Examining the special education formula was simply one step in the process of fair funding for education in Pennsylvania,” O’Neill added. “With House Bill 1738, we are building on the ideas that we found to be very successful in the Special Education Funding Commission and applying those parameters to a new commission, which will take a look at how we drive out dollars to our K-12 schools. Education funding accounts for nearly 40 percent of our state budget. As legislators, it is critical we ensure we meet our constitutional obligation and fairly distribute state funds.”
Commission members would be tasked with developing a formula that takes into account each school district’s market value/personal income aid ratio, equalized millage rate, geographic price differences, enrollment levels, local support and other factors.
“All of these factors have an impact on the financial stability of our schools and education programs,” said O’Neill. “The goal is to collect current information, talk to our schools and other experts and develop a new way of distributing state funding based on actual student and school data.”
The commission would be expected to issue a report of its findings and recommendations one year from the date of enactment, following a series of public hearings. Recommendations would not take effect unless enacted by the General Assembly.
House Bill 1738 now moves to the Senate for consideration.
~ News Release via Representative Bernie O’Neill ~
~ 29th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives ~