(The Center Square) – Gov. Josh Shapiro’s billion-dollar education spending plan makes no plans for school vouchers, but that doesn’t mean he’s washed his hands of the conversation entirely.

Aside from reconstituting the outdated formula for funding charter schools, the first-term Democrat said lawmakers need to “stay at the table” and “keep having important conversations.”

“And look, one of those conversations will need to be about scholarships that let poor families in struggling school districts put their kids in the best position for them to succeed – whether that’s paying for extra tutoring, books and computers, or yes, going to another school,” he said.

Shapiro mentioned the Senate Republican-backed $100 million school voucher program he helped draft. If enacted, students attending schools in the bottom fifteen percent as measured by academic performance could get a state grant to cover tuition at a private school.

Advocates doing so would offer alternatives for up to 250,000 students living in ZIP codes with struggling schools.

The Democrat-led House, however, refused to include vouchers in last year’s budget, believing it to be an unconstitutional diversion of taxpayer dollars to private schools.

Shapiro sided with them, but said again Tuesday he supports the idea and considers it to be “unfinished business.”

“I’m grateful House Democratic leadership has committed to examine and seriously consider this proposal to address the needs of our most at-risk learners,” he said. “So, we’ve left room for the House and Senate to find common ground on this.”

It’s unclear what that common ground might be, though a one-seat split in the House means vouchers could pass if just two Democrats crossed the aisle. Rep. Amen Brown, D-Philadelphia, has been one such voice in his party.

He isn’t the only outlier. Sen. Tony Williams, D-Philadelphia, has long supported vouchers in the wake of dedicated increases in state funding for public schools that have produced worse results.

Last year’s budget included the biggest single-year increase in basic education spending. The $567 million boost was accompanied by juiced up appropriations totaling $150 million for school choice tax credits that subsidize private school tuition.

Christen is Pennsylvania editor for The Center Square newswire service and co-host of Pennsylvania in Focus, a weekly podcast on America’s Talking Network. Find her work in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Broad + Liberty, RealClear, the Washington Examiner and elsewhere. 

This article was republished with permission from The Center Square.

One thought on “Shapiro calls school vouchers ‘unfinished business’”

  1. PA either needs the additional tax money or it does not. Let’s presume PA needs it. Shapiro has a straightforward choice where he could simply raise taxes. Instead, Shapiro pushes expanded drug use. Who cares? it is only harming those drug addicts. What if one of your young family members falls into the trap in the future? Shapiro wants to legalize marijuana, so he is literally a drug pusher. Why is he going to implement a policy to increase drug use? It is not simply for the money. Again, PA could just raise taxes. It is to create more addicts and more people to be dependent on the state. Shapiro does not need to be a weed dealer to raise money. Several studies indicate a link between marijuana use and an increased risk of mental health disorders, such as schizophrenia, depression, and anxiety in individuals who are genetically predisposed. In fact, one study found that daily marijuana use, particularly at a young age, makes individuals with specific genes 7 times more likely to develop schizophrenia than people with the gene who do not use the drug. Additionally, marijuana has been shown to worsen symptoms associated with schizophrenia for those who already have the illness. The trend toward higher-potency marijuana could pose additional, yet-unknown risks. Twenty years ago, the average THC content in confiscated marijuana was less than 4%. In 2018, it was more than 15%. Researchers do not yet know the full extent that these higher concentrations of THC will have on the body and brain, especially the developing brain. Shapiro is a double speaking liar and wants to be a drug dealer.

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