Senator Piccola Written Remarks
Education Chairs & Senators Unveil Mandate Relief Package
Pledging to Relieve School Districts of Financial Burdens
HARRISBURG – Recognizing the budgetary constraints and challenges facing
Pennsylvania's school districts, Senator Jeff Piccola (R-15), Chairman of the
Senate Education Committee, and members of the Senate Republican Caucus unveiled
today a comprehensive legislative package intended to relieve schools of costly
state mandates. Also joining Piccola for this announcement was Senator Andy
Dinniman (D-19), Democratic Chairman of the Education Committee.
The 2011-2012 spending plan proposed by Governor Corbett requires substantial
reductions to the state education budget to address a $4 billion deficit. In an
effort to provide the Commonwealth's schools with flexibility to balance their
budgets and reduce costs, members have introduced a package of 18 bills designed
to relieve what lawmakers call 'onerous' mandates outlined in the Pennsylvania
Some of the measures being proposed include enabling districts to order
teacher furloughs in the name of economic necessity; allowing districts to forgo
filing non-essential reports not involving budget, financial, or safety
information to the Pennsylvania Department of Education in years when state
education aid declines; and increasing the monetary threshold for bidding on
During a press conference with their colleagues in the Senate, Piccola and
Dinniman emphasized that relieving school districts of expensive mandates and
giving them the flexibility to meet the educational needs of children is the
intent of their legislation.
"Our goal is to reduce the numerous restrictions and directives currently
hamstringing school districts so that learning environments can be improved for
all students. Together, we believe that by eliminating these bureaucratic hoops
for school districts teachers can focus on teaching and administrators can have
greater control in leading their schools, and ultimately a quality educational
opportunity for our kids can be provided at a reasonable cost," said Piccola.
"It is imperative that we take steps to reduce the amount of onerous,
outdated and unnecessary restrictions that bog down our school districts and
take the focus away from learning. Many of these mandates are decades-old and
don't have anything to do with education," Dinniman said. "These efforts are a
step in the right direction to eliminate red tape, reduce costs and allow
schools to concentrate on their most important task – preparing students for the
Bills in the legislative package specifically authored by Piccola would ease
requirements for hiring school nurses by allowing districts to hire a registered
nurse with in-service training. Additionally, Piccola has sponsored a measure
that would permit school districts to advertise from a menu of options including
In addition to Dinniman, other members who support and have sponsored bills
in the package include: Senators Alloway (R-33); Brubaker (R-36); Corman (R-34);
Eichelberger (R-30); Folmer (R-48); Rafferty (R-44); Smucker (R-13); and Waugh
(R-28). A similar package has been introduced in the House of Representatives,
and Governor Corbett has also called for significant mandate relief.
Recognizing that the state's economic future is closely tied to a strong
education system, Piccola underscored the need for this legislative package and the importance
of relieving school districts of significant cost drivers.
"Our colleagues in both chambers of the Legislature need to understand that
state and federally-imposed mandates are a tremendous strain on municipal and
school budgets, and as a result, taxpayers continue to bear the brunt of the
financial burden," he said. "To shelve or delay tackling this issue during our
economic crisis may result in a missed opportunity to rein in the costs that
place the largest burden on the local taxpayer."
Holding up the over 2,000 page three-inch thick Public School Code at the
press conference, Piccola emphasized, "For mandate relief, the future is now."
Colleen Greer (Piccola's Office), 717-787-6801
Adam Cirucci (Dinniman's Office), 610-692-2112