Pennsylvania Governor Drops $100 Million Private School Plan, Relaxes House Budget Vote

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (AP) – Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro on Wednesday withdrew his claim to fund a new private school funding program before the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives after days of debate. It gave room to approve new state spending plans. A deadlock in the politically divided Pennsylvania legislature.

The parliament approved the bill Wednesday night. $45 billion spending plan, the state won 117 to 86 because it missed the fifth day without full spending authority. All Democrats voted yes, along with 15 Republicans.

of hold up It was mostly about education spending, including Mr. Shapiro’s endorsement of a new $100 million program to pay for private and religious schools, a top priority for Republican lawmakers.

This first-ever “voucher” program was a key element of the budget deal between Mr. Shapiro and the Republicans who control the state Senate. And scrapping the program opened the door for steps Senate Republicans could take to extract concessions on other budget-related bills.

The private school program was opposed by Democrats, the teachers’ union and the school board, and in the ensuing standoff, Mr. Shapiro warned that if the House passed a spending plan approved by the Senate, $100 million It promised to invoke an item veto against the dollar program.

In a statement, Shapiro said he was disappointed but did not want the state to be in a “painful and prolonged financial stalemate.”

Some Republicans expressed shock at the turn of events. Senate Republican leaders said in a statement that Mr Shapiro was “determined to betray the good faith agreements we agreed upon” and lacked “sufficient respect and standing within the party to carry out his promises”. rice field.

On the House floor, Rep. Seth Grove (R-York) accused Mr. Shapiro of “rolling back on the handshake deal.”

The spending plan is a 5% increase from the budget approved last year, with most of the new funding going to education, health and social services.

The total spending is hundreds of millions of dollars less than Shapiro proposed in March and about $1.7 billion less than the amount passed by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives in early June. It also costs public schools significantly less than what House Democrats have asked for.

The plan would not raise sales or income taxes, the state’s two main sources of revenue, and would require about $1 billion in reserves to cover the balance, leaving an additional $13 billion in reserves.

Shapiro’s original budget plan and deal with Senate Republicans fell short of what many Democrats hoped.

Mr. Shapiro has secured a significant increase of more than $600 million, or about 7 percent, in teaching and running public schools, as well as free breakfasts in schools, public defenders for the poor and higher property taxes, and an increase in senior citizenship. set aside millions of dollars to provide rent subsidies for people with disabilities and those with disabilities.

Millions more were set aside to improve school buildings and help pay for the school’s mental health counselors. The plan also includes an additional $150 million sought by Republicans as another tax credit program that will primarily benefit private schools.

Still, the spending plan doesn’t include some of Shapiro’s priorities, leaving about $600 million in aid to Pennsylvania State University, Temple University, and the University of Pittsburgh withholding by the House Republican bloc, hanging in limbo. remains.

Other items Shapiro wanted to include in the bill, and items Senate Republicans agreed to in exchange for private school programs, could require separate bills to allow that budget to be spent.

This means Senate Republicans haven’t necessarily lost all their clout, but Rep. Matthew Bradford (D-Montgomery) said, “How a bill becomes law is something I will never understand. I didn’t understand it that way,” he said.

Bradford said there is a positive side to the spending plan, even with concessions from House Democrats.

“I think there are certainly missed opportunities, but I think overall, that’s what moves the Federation forward,” he said. “Education funding deserves particular attention.”

Republicans also have no plans for the Senate to resume session until Sept. 18, and said they could suspend the budget until then without the signature of the speaker, which is required by the constitution. Pennsylvania Governor Drops $100 Million Private School Plan, Relaxes House Budget Vote

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