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Republicans raise concerns for Shapiro’s budget

What happened: Following Governor Shapiro’s 2024-25 budget proposal, Republican lawmakers quickly expressed their concerns about the budget. Now as budget hearings have started, those concerns have only increased.

Why this matters: As more questions are raised and parties clash, the implementation of the proposed budget is further delayed. This delay means proposed benefits for PASSHE students like more accessible tuition remain out of reach.


Lack of future plan:

The proposed budget shows an increase in Basic Education spending for the ‘24-’25 cycle, but no increase in funding after this year. Republicans view a plan for future funding as an essential part of this conversation. In their eyes, having no plans for the future is a big determent from investing in the plan now. The lack of planning past the current year has sparked conversations among legislators about the overall merit of the budget.

“The [Basic Education Funding Commission] advocates have a right to know, is that a real a plan or has this been a largely political exercise?” said PA Senator Ryan Aument in a Senate Appropriations Committee budget hearing for the Department of Education.

His comment echoes the concerns being expressed by many Republicans.

BEFC’s funding request differs from follow through:

The commission Aument referred to is the BEFC which is tasked with reviewing state budgeting distribution across 500 school districts. The goal of this group is to help the state carry out its constitutional obligation to provide students with opportunities to succeed by giving them access to an effective education system, as written out in the Education Clause, article III, section 14 of the PA Constitution.

Shapiro credited the work this commission has done as a launching point for his budget, according to a post on X on Feb. 21. Despite this claim of using the commission’s reports as the groundwork for the new budget, some lawmakers have pointed out key differences between the two.

Aument, in the Feb. 28 budget hearing, expressed his concern about the budget’s consideration of the reports created by the BEFC.

“… it’s very difficult for me to ignore the funding request[‘s] apparent inconsistency [between] this funding request and the BEF majority report,” said Aument.

Republican’s general view of an inconsistent, inapplicable budget leaves them strongly pitted against Shapiro’s plan.


Long-term funding issues:

PA’s non-partisan Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) was asked to testify in a budget hearing to provide more background on the practicality of the proposal.

The IFO provides insight into revenue projections and analysis of fiscal issues to the General Assembly. The reports and analysis allow lawmakers to evaluate policy decisions, like the implementation of a budget.

On Feb. 20 the IFO testified in a Senate budget hearing that under the governor’s budget, the current fund balance and the state’s emergency savings would run out in ‘26-’27. This discovery has been a main talking point for the GOP as they continue to question the logistics of the budget.

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Novalea Verno, News Editor

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