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Putting kids first, PA declares independence

Getting a jump on the long weekend? You earned it. And so did state legislators who passed the 2017-2018 budget spending bill.  They may not yet agree on how to pay for it but the bipartisan agreement puts kids first, doing the job Pennsylvanians have consistently demanded they do.

Fund The Formula
Acknowledging the fiscal challenges facing the state this year, the Campaign for Fair Education Funding spurred a rather modest, yet still meaningful, $100 million increase in education investments which would flow through the commonwealth’s hard-earned but neglected Basic Education Funding formula. That’s a 2% increase over last year.

Legislators also stood by students with special needs, increasing funding to special education by $25 million. The PA Senate also restored a $50M cut to student transportation which was originally floated by the governor’s office.

For what appeared to be the makings of a grand disappointment for Pennsylvania families with school-aged children, this budget is good news and proof that their priorities and concerns are being heard.

Yay for Pre-K for PA  
The budget also means more money for pre-k, opening access to game-changing quality pre-k programs to thousands more three- and four-year-olds. Governor Wolf proposed $75 million, the House countered with $25M, and the Senate closed the deal at $30 million.

Averting a $28 million cut to child care as outlined by the House, overall funding will ultimately be bumped up by $20M and a new program for home visits received nearly $5M.

“The stronger the investment in high-quality early learning – including pre-k, child care and home visiting – the greater the return for our children and our commonwealth,” said the Pre-K for PA campaign in their response to the budget.

But how to pay for it? That’s what lies ahead.

As Berks County State Senator Judy Schwank said, “I think we’ve gotten to a good place in terms of this budget. Now the really hard work is coming.”

They may not agree yet how to get there, but at least the destination is where we all want to be: a Pennsylvania that puts kids first. That puts the state legislature at stark contrast with the president and Congress.

Happy Independence Day, Harrisburg!

U.S. Senate still doesn’t get it

A tax break for billionaires at the cost of millions of hard-working Americans is never going to be a winning proposition, especially when so many kids lie directly in harm’s way.

On Monday, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and PCCY hosted a press conference and meeting for providers and advocates to thank southeastern PA Congressional reps for standing up and voting against tone-deaf healthcare/Medicaid reform and spell out the ramifications of such reform.

The success of the event and the wide coverage it received can be credited to three brave parents whose children’s lives are dependent on Medicaid. With passion and eloquence, they testified to the necessity of Medicaid and denounced the draconian cuts that would devastate working families across the country. Watch their statements by clicking their names below.

We thank you:
Kimberly Burke
Dianne Hull
Amanda Forman

 

#SaveMedicaid! You can tell Senator Bob Casey and Senator Pat Toomey to protect our kids! Click on their names to send them a message today!

 

“Never imagined a day when I would think to myself, ‘it is beneath my dignity to respond to the President of the United States.’” MSNBC public relations chief Mark Kornblau, in reference to bullying remarks.

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Did you hear it? Students at Kirkbride Elementary were featured on WHYY for their Picasso Project-supported “American Dreams.” Get inspired on your drive to the shore.
HEAR HERE!

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PA Supreme Court rules no life without parole for children unless it’s proven youth is permanently incorrigible. 

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