Senate Education Committee’s 6-5 vote pushes bill to full senate; could be largest transfer of taxpayer dollars out of public schools in Pa. history

Pennsylvania Politics

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The Pennsylvania Senate Education Committee voted 6-5 on Monday, June 7, to advance a bill that would divert huge amounts of taxpayer dollars out of the state’s public schools.

The bill sponsored by Senator Scott Martin would be spent on private school programs, tax breaks for businesses and a massive expansion of charter schools.

“We are extremely disappointed that so many Senate Education Committee members want to take hundreds of millions of dollars from public schools where 90% of Pennsylvania’s students learn,” PSEA President Rich Askey said in response to the vote that moved the bill to the full Senate. “Members of the education committee should be helping public schools, particularly on the heels of the challenges students and educators have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

According to Askey, the bill could be the largest transfer of taxpayer dollars out of public schools in Pennsylvania’s history.

Askey added that in the 2019-20 year, the traditional public schools paid charter schools nearly $2.2 billion. Charter schools are becoming one of the largest single expenses for public schools.

“At a time when educators and communities across Pennsylvania are talking about the need for greater accountability for charter schools, this bill will bypass local decision-makers and throw what little accountability there is out the window,” Askey said. “We need more transparency in our charter school system, not less.”

According to Askey, this bill will provide a massive increase in tax breaks for corporations that contribute to private and religious schools.

“While public schools are lucky to get a funding increase on the order of 2% to 3% in any given year, this bill will give these tax break programs a whopping 68% increase next year and provide 25% increases each year after,” Askey said. “Within five years, these tax break programs would grow to nearly $1 billion, and in 10 years the cost would triple to $3 billion.”

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