Commonwealth Foundation: Education gets more federal COVID dollars than healthcare

This Week in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The Philadelphia School District got five times more COVID relief money than all the state’s nursing homes combined. That’s just one finding in recent analysis of federal dollars flowing into and out of Harrisburg.

The federal government has steered billions of COVID bucks into Pa. But according to analysis by the Conservative Commonwealth Foundation, the state has sent one in three of those federal dollars to education, just under one in four to healthcare.

Steve Bloom is a former lawmaker, currently with the Commonwealth Foundation which pushes aggressively for school choice. “The funding for health care during the pandemic is significantly lower than the amount that went to these closed public schools during the pandemic,” Bloom said.

He adds that many public schools are sitting on huge surpluses. “They’re literally the most flush they’ve ever been and yet asking for more we have to be careful as we allocate budget over the next few weeks,” Bloom said.

“The fact is education serves way more people than health care and nursing homes,” Marc Stier with the left-leaning budget and policy center said. He argues buildings may have been closed but schools were not and they had unexpected and expensive challenges in the past year.

“The impact of the pandemic wasn’t just on health care. The impact of the pandemic was on housing, was on unemployment, was on small businesses and was on education and the impact on education was dramatic in terms of lost revenues and increased costs,” Stier said.

In a statement, the Governor’s spokeswoman said the report “Is missing key pieces of federal funding information in an attempt to mislead the public.” That report found 21% of federal money has not yet been allocated and there’s lots of folks that would like a slice of that multi-billion dollar budget pie that’s about to be carved up in Harrisburg.

“Bottom line is all of these dollars have to be spent in ways that make sense and are responsible and not just favor the powerful teachers union or other bureaucracies that hold sway,” Bloom said.

We have just entered June, a time to keep an eye on the money. The state budget is due at the end of the month.

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