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POWER Interfaith Urges Swift Action for Education Equity Amid Governor Shapiro’s Historic $1.1 Billion Budget Proposal

Proposed Funding Increase Marks Progress Towards Fair and Adequate School Funding, but Urgent Action Needed to Address Long Standing Disparities

(Philadelphia, PA: February 7, 2024)In his second budget address, Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro has put forth an unprecedented commitment to education, unveiling a historic $1.1 billion increase in education funding for Pennsylvania. POWER Interfaith applauds this bold step towards addressing the longstanding disparities in our education system.

The proposed education funding increases are a monumental stride towards fulfilling the state’s constitutional mandate for fair and adequate school funding. Of the $1.1 billion increase, $872 million is designated for first-year adequacy investment, acknowledging the urgent need to address the educational disparities that have persisted for far too long.

“Investing in education is investing in the future of our children and the prosperity of our communities,” affirms Beth Reeves, Co-Chair of POWER Interfaith’s Education Justice Team, “Governor Shapiro’s proposed budget allocation signals a commitment to prioritizing the well-being and success of all Pennsylvania students.”

In addition to the substantial increase in basic education funding, Governor Shapiro’s budget allocates $300 million annually for the next five years to address environmental repairs in school buildings across the commonwealth. This crucial investment underscores the importance of providing safe and conducive learning environments for all students.

The proposed budget aligns closely with the recommendations set forth by the Basic Education Funding Commission (BEFC), which called for increasing education funding by $9 billion over the next seven years to meet the court’s ruling. While this proposal represents a significant step forward, POWER Interfaith emphasizes the need for swift and comprehensive action to ensure equity in education.

“We cannot afford to delay action any longer. The time for meaningful change is now,” urges Rev. Gregory Edwards, Acting Executive Director at POWER Interfaith. “We call on Governor Shapiro and the legislature to heed the recommendations of the BEFC report  and enact legislation this year that implements a schedule of funding increases that fully funds every school and provides an equitable education for all of Pennsylvania students. 

As POWER Interfaith continues to advocate for education justice, we stand ready to collaborate with policymakers, community leaders, and stakeholders to ensure that every child has access to a high-quality education, regardless of their zip code or background. Hundreds of POWER Interfaith members, leaders, and congregations to address education justice and other issues at the “Roadmap for Justice: POWER Interfaith Convention”, its first statewide convention on Monday, February 19.

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POWER Interfaith is a network of 200 congregations throughout Philadelphia and the surrounding counties, in the Lehigh Valley and in Lancaster, a statewide organizing force for economic and racial justice on a livable planet. More about POWER Interfaith at www.powerinterfaith.org.