News for Advocates for Catholic Education in Pennsylvania
March 18, 2011
School Choice Update:
Senate Bill 1 – the Opportunity Scholarship and Educational Improvement Tax Credit Act cleared its first hurdle on its way to become law in Pennsylvania. SB 1 passed the Senate Education Committee with an 8-2 vote on Tuesday, March 1, 2011. A list of the Senators who voted YES is posted on the PCC website. If your senator is on this list please contact him to say thanks for his support.
SB 1 now heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee where a fiscal note will be created to show how much it will cost in the three-year phase-in of the bill. Once a fiscal note is attached, the committee will take a vote. If your Senator is on the Appropriations Committee, please contact him or her to urge for support of SB 1.
Have you contacted your state Senator about SB 1 yet? Visit, call, fax, write or e-mail your state Senator and urge him or her to vote YES on SB 1 and only support amendments offered by the bill’s sponsors.
School Choice Calendar of Events
If you live in the Pittsburgh, Scranton, or Harrisburg areas we urge you to attend the following House Democratic Policy Hearings to show your support for SB 1. If travel costs are a concern, we can reimburse costs.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011, at 10:00 a.m. in Pittsburgh
Public Hearing with Rep. Jake Wheatley on Vouchers at the University of Pittsburgh, William Pitt Kurtzman Room, 3959 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh.
Thursday, March 31, 2011, at 10:00 a.m. in Scranton
Public Hearing with Rep. Ken Smith on Vouchers at Marywood University, Nazareth Hall, The Latour Room, 2300 Adams Avenue, Scranton.
Thursday, April 7, 2011, at 10:00 a.m. in Harrisburg
Public Hearing on Vouchers in 418 Main Capitol Building
Governor’s Budget Update:
Pennsylvania’s “day of reckoning has come,” announced Governor Tom Corbett with calls for fiscal discipline and no new taxes. On Tuesday, March 8, 2011, the governor unveiled his $27.3 billion spending plan for the Commonwealth’s 2011-2012 fiscal year. The budget proposal represents a 3 percent overall decrease from last year, but program cuts are more surgical than across the board.
Calling for a system of “portable education funding,” Governor Corbett voiced his support for school choice. The proposed budget returns the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program to $75 million. The line item that provides textbooks and materials to nonpublic school students was decreased 1.7% and auxiliary services and special education programs for nonpublic school students received a 1.2% cut. The Nonpublic transportation line item will increase by .63%. This line item is calculated by the number of students who need this services in nonpublic schools. Comparatively speaking, public education received roughly an 8% decrease in the total state allocation. The Governor’s recommended public education appropriation is $5.23 billion, which matches the funding level in the 2008-2009 education budget. Other core public education programs such as special education, early intervention, career and technical education, Pre-K Counts, Head Start and pupil transportation are funded at or close to the 2010-11 appropriation levels.
2011 Catholic Education Priorities:
1. School choice legislation
2. Increase the funding for the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program to $100 million and add corrective language that fixes unforeseen problems
3. Build the ACE-PA advocacy network.
ACE-PA is one of the most important tools we have to influence public policy. With your participation, we can truly change Catholic education in Pennsylvania. I would like to say hello to all our new members and welcome them to the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference’s ACE-PA monthly newsletter. The newsletter will update our volunteers of current Catholic school issues and identify our legislative priorities for the upcoming budget cycle in Pennsylvania.
Technology allows more user interaction for ACE-PA:
Catholic education is among the many issues with which the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference gets involved. Please help spread the word to all your family and friends to assist us in growing the ACE-PA advocacy network. It’s simple, just forward this link click here. PCC also advocates on issues of religious liberty, life and the dignity of the human person, marriage and family, social justice, health care, and faith and politics during the election cycle. Check any and all of the categories on the sign-up screen to receive updates on each of them.
All information supplied will only be used for Pennsylvania Catholic Conference purposes. Providing your home address allows the system to determine your legislative district. If you choose to use the PCC website to send a message to your legislators, it will go to the appropriate elected official. Legislators are most influenced by communications that come from their own constituents.
The latest news about Catholic education issues in Harrisburg is posted as it happens on PCC’s website, pacatholic.org/catholic-education and on the ACE-PA Facebook page. Information about ACE-PA can also be found on the front page of pacatholic.org. Watch for the logo in the scrolling list of featured articles. This page will offer resources that will help you boost our advocacy for Catholic education in Harrisburg, but also in your school, parish and community.
The future of Catholic education in Pennsylvania depends on all of us. If you have any suggestions on improving ACE-PA or increasing our membership, please contact me at [email protected].