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House Concurs to 23-24 State Budget Bill; Next Steps Remain Uncertain

Last night the state House concurred to HB 611, the vehicle for the 23-24 state budget. While the legislation has now affirmatively been voted on by both chambers, a quick path to Governor Shapiro’s desk for his signature is far from certain.

Throughout this year’s negotiations, the sticking point has been the Pennsylvania Award for Student Success (PASS) program or educational vouchers. The issue is a priority of Senate Republicans, and Governor Shapiro voiced general support for the concept since his candidacy last year. However, House Democrats voiced strong opposition, prompting the governor to walk back his previous comments and release a statement committing that he would line-item veto $100 million in funding included in HB 611 for the initiative.

With the House concurring with HB 611 and the promise of a line-item veto, Senate Republican leadership indicated they will not sign the bill, preventing the enactment of an actual budget for the fiscal year that began July 1. As of today, the Senate is adjourned until September, and the House is expected to also adjourn in the coming days.

Further complicating the final budget enactment are the missing related code bills directing the disbursement of General Appropriation funds (school code, human services code, fiscal code, etc.). This is critical information for items such as career and technical education funding and child care funding, as well as programmatic changes that may be planned for pre-k.

Specific funding levels currently in HB 611 include:

  • Pre-K: Level-funding for the Pre-K Counts and Head Start Supplemental Assistance programs. PPC and the Pre-K for PA campaign are extremely disappointed with the lack of support for pre-k programs in HB 611. If enacted, this will be the first budget since 2012 that did not contain an increase for high-quality, publicly funded pre-k. The governor’s proposed budget contained a $33 million increase for these line items.
  • Child Care: An increase of $90.3M for the child care services line item ($66.7M of which will be used to sustain an increase in provider rates previously achieved through one-time stimulus funds; this was included in Governor Shapiro’s March budget proposal) as well as a $13.3M increase for the child care assistance line item. The Start Strong PA campaign was seeking a significant investment for child care workforce wages and is disappointed with the current version of HB 611.
  • Home Visiting: Level funding for the Community-Based Family Center line and a $25,000 increase is included for the Nurse-Family Partnership line (a technical adjustment due to changes in federal matching rates). Following last year’s historic increase in home visiting services, the Childhood Begins at Home campaign requested level funding for the 23-24 budget.
  • Early Intervention: An increase of $15.4 million for Infant and Toddler (Part C) Early Intervention in the Department of Human Services budget. This is short of Governor Shapiro’s March budget proposal, which called for a $20.2 million increase. While the additional $15.4 million will serve more children and sustain a rate increase initially achieved through one-time federal stimulus funding, Thriving PA is disappointed more was not done to holistically support the Early Intervention system. This includes solutions to address workforce shortages needed to create a viable and sustained service delivery platform. Additionally, Preschool (Part B) Early Intervention received a $10.4 million increase in the Department of Education budget, which was what Governor Shapiro included in his March request.
  • Perinatal and Children’s Health: A new appropriation of $2.3 million in the Department of Health budget to implement recommendations from the Maternal Mortality Review Committee. Specific to CHIP, there is a $7.8 million decrease, which is seemingly due to fluctuations in federal funding.
  • CTE: An increase of $14 million for the CTE subsidy line as well as an increase of $9.45 million for the CTE equipment grant line. This goes above Gov. Shapiro’s proposed increase for CTE which included additional funding for apprenticeship programs outside of PDE. Until the Fiscal Code language is released it is unclear how much funding from this increase will flow through the CTE subsidy to allow more students to attend CTCs.
  • K-12: An additional $567 million for BEF, a 7.8% total increase in spending which is on par with what Governor Shapiro proposed in his budget address. Also included in the budget is an additional $50 million for special education funding.  For universal free school breakfast, HB 611 contains an additional $46.5 million to ensure every student has access to nutritious, free breakfast in public schools
  • Child Welfare: An additional $10.2 million reflecting the proposed increase contained in the governor’s budget address.

Stay tuned for additional updates in the coming days (weeks? months?) as we learn more about the progress of a final 23-24 state budget and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Separate from budget activity, over the past few weeks saw continued movement on legislation of interest to PPC. HB 665 (Bullock), which PPC supports, would modernize the WIC program in Pennsylvania and passed the House by a vote of 176-27. Another bill we support, HB 1058 (Krajewski), would allow kinship care providers to testify during child custody hearings. This bill passed the House unanimously. Both bills now await action to pass finally on the House floor. Our first piece of priority language to head to the Governor's desk is SB 262 (Schwank), which would add "severe maternal morbidity" to the list of reportable events to the Department of Health.

Other legislation we have been following includes HB 1020 (Mehaffie), which would take into consideration experience when child care providers seek to move up a Keystone STAR level, HB 1259 (Davis), which would enhance Pennsylvania's Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit Program, and HB 1272 (Sappey), which would implement a state Earned Income Tax Credit. All three bills have been sent to the Senate but have seen no movement in the upper chamber.


Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children
200 North Third Street 13th Floor
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17101
(717) 236-5680

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