Key Points from Senate Budget Hearings on Higher Education

HARRISBURG – Declining enrollment and the cost of higher education highlighted Thursday’s Senate Appropriations Committee hearings on the 2023-24 budget requests for state-related universities and the State System of Higher Education.

The proceedings wrapped up the second of three weeks of budget hearings. Gov. Josh Shapiro’s $45.8 billion plan seeks to boost state spending by more than $1.3 billion above the current year’s budget. Projections indicate it will nearly wipe out the state’s Rainy Day Fund in five years.

State-Related Universities

State-related universities are requesting huge increases in taxpayer support: Penn State University seeks a 47.6% increase in funding; University of Pittsburgh, 6%; Temple University, 16%; and Lincoln University, 25.3%. The governor’s budget proposal increases funding by 7.1% across the board.

Full Hearing

Senator Martin on Preparing the Workforce, Keeping Tuition Low, Luring Talent to PA, and More

Video Highlights

State System of Higher Education

The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) has requested a total of $685.4 million, an increase of $133 million, or 24.1%, over the current year’s budget. The governor’s budget provides a 2% increase.

Full Hearing

Video Highlights

You can find the hearings schedule, livestreams, daily recaps and video from prior hearings at

CONTACT: Jason Thompson

Legislators Appointed to Commission to Improve PA’s Education System, Workforce

Appointees tasked with redesigning PA education to better meet the state’s economic needs

HARRISBURG – As a result of legislation sponsored by Sen. Ryan Aument (R-36) to redesign the state’s education system, Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward (R-39) appointed Sens. Aument, Rosemary Brown (R-40), David Argall (R-29) and Devlin Robinson (R-37) to serve on the Pennsylvania Commission on Education & Economic Competitiveness.

Because the current education system doesn’t adequately meet the needs of Pennsylvania’s workforce, the commission will be tasked with creating a long-term plan to align our education system with job demands. The diverse members of the commission will:

  • Create a shared, bipartisan vision for 21st century education that will prepare all students to compete in a global economy,
  • Establish policies to give all school districts the support and flexibility they need to build world-class education systems, and
  • Recommend a legislative action plan to achieve these shared goals.

“Preparing our students today for the jobs of tomorrow is critical to strengthening Pennsylvania’s economy and making our Commonwealth even more competitive from a workforce perspective,” said Sen. Kim Ward. “Sens. Aument, Argall, Brown, and Robinson will provide a comprehensive and laser-focused approach to the work of this commission that will help deliver an innovative education system to address our 21st century workforce needs.”

“If Pennsylvania is to compete and win in a global economy, we must redesign our education system to align the skills we teach in the classroom with the needs of our workforce,” Aument said. “I am eager to work together on a shared vision for our education system that better prepares Pennsylvania students for the jobs of the future.”

“I am honored to be appointed to serve on this impactful commission,” Brown said. “Envisioning the future of Pennsylvania through the lenses of quality education will shape our state to be a major economic competitor. I look forward to working with my colleagues to study the current challenges and create a concrete plan to prepare our next generation for success.”

“There are no simple solutions to fixing Pennsylvania’s education system, but I believe we can make real progress by working together in a bipartisan fashion,” said Argall. “I look forward to working with the commission to better prepare our children for the 21st century economy.”

“As Chair of the Labor and Industry Committee, I regularly hear from employers struggling to find qualified workers to fill open positions,” said Robinson. “I look forward to working with the commission to rethink how we educate and train the workforce of tomorrow.”

All senators will serve the commission as it completes its work within the 18-month deadline.


CONTACT:    Erica Clayton Wright (Sen. Ward)
Stephanie Applegate (Sen. Aument)
Mackenzie Mueller (Sen. Brown)
Jim Brugger (Sen. Argall)
Allison Dutrey (Sen. Robinson)

Key Points from Senate Budget Hearings with Department of Education

HARRISBURG – The Senate Appropriations Committee reviewed the proposed budget for the Department of Education during a public hearing today.

Gov. Josh Shapiro is proposing the largest Basic Education Funding increase in Pennsylvania history – more than $567 million in new state dollars. He did not follow through on his promise to fund Lifeline Scholarships, a key provision to help provide families with greater options to meet their educational needs, nor did he include any additional funding for Earned Income Tax Credit programs that help students who are struggling in their current learning environment.

Full Hearing (1)

Full Hearing (2) 

Senator Martin on Maintaining School Safety, Boosting Student Mental Health, School Choice, and More

Video Highlights 

You can find the hearings schedule, livestreams, daily recaps and video from prior hearings at


CONTACT: Jason Thompson

Coleman Introduces Legislation to Provide Schools, Taxpayers Relief from Unnecessary Mandates

Compliance Books with Gavel on the shelf. Creativity Concept.

HARRISBURGState Sen. Jarrett Coleman (R-16) has introduced legislation reinstituting a program to provide school districts relief from costly and unnecessary mandates.

Senate Bill 569 will reinstitute a mandate waiver initiative similar to the program that operated from 2000 to 2010.

“In speaking to school leaders throughout my district, and from my first-hand observations as a member of a school board, I am keenly aware of how mandates impact our public schools,” said Coleman. “Compliance with these well-intentioned mandates can be costly, time consuming and may not impact the quality of the students’ education.”

Coleman’s legislation will allow public schools to apply to the Pennsylvania Department of Education for a waiver of many state-imposed mandates. The department can approve a waiver, if the public school can prove that its instructional program will improve, or the school will operate in a more effective, efficient or economical manner. The application will require supporting data showing the benefits to the waiver.

A temporary mandate waiver program was implemented as part of the emergency COVID-19 legislation in 2020. However, the waiver provisions were only available for the 2019-20 school year. 

“Public schools and the taxpayers who fund them need permanent relief from costly, unnecessary mandates,” Coleman said. “Local educators know what works for their districts. My legislation makes clear that if a mandate from Harrisburg isn’t advancing education in our districts, schools should be permitted to find a better, less costly way.”


CONTACT: Leo Knepper  

Key Points from Senate Budget Hearings with Departments of Labor and Industry, Agriculture

HARRISBURG – The Senate Appropriations Committee examined the budgets and operations of the Department of Labor and Industry and Department of Agriculture in Tuesday’s hearings on the proposed 2023-24 state budget.

Gov. Josh Shapiro’s $45.8 billion plan seeks to boost state spending by more than $1.3 billion above the current year’s budget. Senate Republicans are reviewing the budget with an eye toward upholding the principles of protecting jobs, empowering families and defending freedoms.

Department of Labor and Industry

Full Hearing

Senator Martin on Minimum Wage, Unemployment Compensation, Service and Infrastructure Improvement Fund and More

The governor’s budget proposes a $9.2 million, or 11.4%, increase over last year’s appropriation. Questions for acting Secretary Nancy Walker focused on the potential for major job losses if Pennsylvania enters the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Processing unemployment compensation claims and preventing UC system fraud were also leading topics.

Video Highlights

  • Questions were raised about the number and type of jobs that are currently paying the minimum wage, since almost all Pennsylvania employers pay well above that rate.
  • Even as Pennsylvania emerges from the pandemic, persistent concerns remain about Unemployment Compensation claims processing and customer service.
  • Department officials were also questioned about how better staffing, training and support could help improve services to UC claimants in CareerLink centers.
  • Previous security failures resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands – or possibly millions – of dollars in UC fraud.
  • Improving apprenticeship retention rates and streamlining apprenticeship program approval were suggested as potential ways to support family-sustaining jobs in Pennsylvania.

Department of Agriculture

The governor’s budget proposal includes an additional $7.3 million, or 18.7%, for Department of Agriculture General Government operations. Pennsylvania’s $132.5 billion agriculture industry is a major economic driver across the commonwealth.

Full Hearing

Video Highlights

  • The Norfolk Southern train derailment impacted many residents at Pennsylvania’s border with Ohio, including farmers. Testing of livestock and crops will continue following that incident. 
  • Containing the spread of avian influenza and helping affected farmers is an important job for the Department of Agriculture. Senators questioned what impact a proposed cut in the Animal Health and Diagnostic Commission would have on the state’s ability to respond to concerns, including Chronic Wasting Disease.
  • Pennsylvania farmland is being targeted by projects to produce energy for states that made poor energy choices. Pennsylvania taxpayers paid for farmland preservation which is being threatened by short-sighted energy policy in neighboring states.

You can find the hearings schedule, livestreams, daily recaps and video from prior hearings at


CONTACT: Jason Thompson

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