Governor seeks big increase in school funding, tax increase | National Government and Political News



Governor seeks big increase in school funding, tax increase

FILE – In this Nov. 4, 2020, file photo, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf speaks during a news conference in Harrisburg, Pa., regarding the counting of ballots in the 2020 general election. Facing a deep, pandemic-inflicted budget deficit, Gov. Wolf will ask lawmakers for billions of dollars funded by higher taxes on Pennsylvania’s huge natural gas industry for workforce development and employment assistance to help the state recover.




HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Gov. Tom Wolf will propose a sweeping new plan to dramatically boost funding for public schools, to be supported by an increase in the state’s personal income tax rate, administration officials said Tuesday.

Wolf’s administration began releasing details of the plan to The Associated Press ahead of Wednesday’s planned budget address.

Under the plan for the fiscal year beginning July 1, Wolf, a Democrat, will ask the Republican-controlled Legislature for what could approach $2 billion extra for public schools.

The biggest part of that, $1.35 billion, would be distributed to schools to pay for their primary operations, like teacher salaries, operations costs and supplies, on top of the $6.8 billion they currently receive, Jen Swails, Wolf’s budget secretary, said in an interview.

The majority of that $8.1 billion would go out through a 5-year-old school funding formula designed to iron out inequities in how Pennsylvania funds the poorest public schools. A portion of it would ensure that no school district receives less than it does now, officials said.

Schools also would receive another $200 million for special education aid, on top of the $1.2 billion they currently receive, in addition to other sums of money, Swails said.

The personal income tax increase would take the rate to 4.49% from 3.07%, but increase the exemption for the lowest earners, the people said.