On March 20, 2023, Acting Education Secretary Dr. Khalid N Mumin appeared before the House Appropriations Committee to defend the governor’s budget proposal. House Republicans focused on Oversight and Accountability of state dollars, starting with ensuring the money we send to school districts shows results – in test scores, physical school improvements, and safety of students and faculty. A variety of policy initiatives were discussed, from Lifeline Scholarships, pupil transportation, the EITC program, and early intervention programs.
School funding increases haven’t shown better test scores over time – which means the Legislature needs to take a deeper dive into the policies our tax dollars are funding.
School choice and Lifeline Scholarships remain more theoretical than something that is a major priority of the Department, despite candidate Shapiro being supportive.
The PDE Secretary was confused about the existence and nature of EITC credits, nature of the demand, or existence of the waiting list.
That means, taken with other testimony, the Shapiro administration is more interested in doubling down on a failed status quo than looking at a transformational change to education.
House Republicans believe there needs to be further explanation of the Pupil Transportation line-item proposal.
Shocking that PDE Secretary cannot say whether it is safe for students to utilize public transportation: We are letting children down by school districts not fulfilling their mandates to transport children to charter and other non-public schools.
PDE believes the $100 million School Environmental Repairs and Improvements line-item will need legislative approval but believes they can work around the legislature on funding libraries. House Republicans believe both proposals need legislative approval. There also needs to be clarity on the need for these programs statewide and how the money will be allocated.
PDE does not even have a list of schools that need funding from the $100 million School Environmental Repairs and Improvement line-item.
Acting Secretary Dr. Khalid Mumin does not believe teacher salaries are the biggest impediment to attracting teachers in Pennsylvania, when asked how we can recruit more teachers to the Commonwealth.
Rep. Clint Owlett asks the Department of Education to work collaboratively with the Legislature on Lifeline Scholarships, which Gov. Shapiro supported during his campaign.
Rep. Natalie Mihalek looks for answers on how the pupil transportation was funded in the governor’s proposed budget.
Rep. Jim Struzzi asks questions about the School Environmental Repairs and Improvements line-item and the current needs of schools.
Rep. Ryan Warner asks the Department of Education to clarify its opinion of the EITC program.
Deeper Dive – Lifeline Scholarships
During his campaign, Gov. Shapiro shared
he is supportive
of Lifeline Scholarships.
Lifeline Scholarships allow students in low-performing school districts to offset costs associated with attending an alternative academic setting.
The legislation only covers costs such as tuition, textbooks, curriculum, or services for students with special needs.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Owlett (R-Tioga & Bradford), has reached out to the administration but has yet to receive clarity on where they stand.
Watch the Full Hearings
In the News
PennLive: Lawmakers gauge level of Gov. Shapiro’s support for school choice during daylong hearing
CBS 21: Education funding under the microscope during House hearings | WHP (local21news.com)
Pennsylvania Capital-Star: Education Secretary Khalid Mumin calls Shapiro’s school plan a starting point for fair funding
Review provided by Rep. Seth Grove, Republican Appropriations Chairman
196th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives