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Pennsylvania House of Representatives
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=H&SPick=20150&cosponId=17507
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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: February 23, 2015 11:46 AM
From: Representative Keith Gillespie
To: All House members
Subject: Constitutional Amendment – “Hold Harmless”
 
In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation that would amend Article III, Section 14 of the Pennsylvania Constitution to abolish the use of the so called “hold harmless” in basic education funding.

Since 1991 a concept, which directly impacts the distribution of basic education funding to school districts, has been adopted into law each year during the state budget proceedings ensuring that school districts’ funding does not fall below the level of funding they received in the prior year. This concept is generally known as a “hold harmless”. The result of this “hold harmless” is that districts which have decreasing student enrollment, which would otherwise cause a reduction in funding provided by the Commonwealth, continue to receive at minimum the same level of funding. At the same time, districts with increasing enrollment, which would otherwise cause an increase in funding provided by the Commonwealth, also continue to receive the same level of funding, unless the Legislature appropriates more funding to the Basic Education Funding line item.

My legislation specifically amends the state constitution to provide that the state funding mechanism for “substantial and general support” for public

education must provide for the allocation and distribution of funding based upon actual student enrollment in each district for the school year immediately preceding the school year in which funding is allocated and distributed. My bill further stipulates that this funding shall not be based upon the amount of funding a school district received in a previous year. I believe that the language of this proposed constitutional amendment is sufficiently specific to target the basic education funding formula while not impacting upon other sources of education funding, such as the Special Education line item or the PA Accountability Grants line item, yet broad enough to eliminate any attempt to manipulate or “game” this requirement in the future.

During this difficult economic time, where the possibilities for increasing state funding are scarce, school districts with increasing student enrollment are faced with the herculean task of providing a quality education for more students without the benefit of increased state funding; thereby placing an ever-growing pressure on local taxpayers. For this reason I believe it is necessary to eliminate the obstruction to a more rational allocation and distribution of education funding by abolishing the use of the “hold harmless”.



Introduced as HB596