Orthodox Union Disappointed Pennsylvania Legislature Unable to Expand School Choice Programs
Hopeful bi-partisan, bi-cameral compromise can be forged in fall
Today, the Orthodox Union, as the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, representing more Orthodox synagogues in Pennsylvania than any other, expressed its disappointment on the inability of the Pennsylvania Senate and House to compromise on workable, passable school choice legislation. Yesterday, the Legislature sent the first on-time budget in eight years to the Governor, but failed to include an expansion of either the EITC scholarship program or of a voucher opportunity program.
Previously, the Senate was focused on SB.1, sponsored by Senators Piccola and Williams, while the House had passed HB 1330. Both would have expanded EITC, for which Pennsylvania is a national model. As well, the Senate bill would have created a voucher program aimed solely at children in failing schools. Recently, both houses began to negotiate a compromise bill that would have still expanded EITC and would also have had a more limited voucher program. But without time before the close of session, the Legislature has put off this key priority for Governor Corbett – something he had discussed with Orthodox leadership during his campaign last summer – as well as families across Pennsylvania until at least the fall.
Howie Beigelman, OU Deputy Director of Public Policy stated:
It’s a sad day for children and families across the Commonwealth. Those seeking greater educational opportunity and those families struggling to shoulder the financial burden of education are left waiting. While fully funding EITC at its current maximum is a positive sign after years of cuts, the compromise being negotiated would have helped thousands more. We hope for the sake of Pennsylvania’s children, the Legislature can revisit this as soon as possible and agree to help even more families in need.