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06/22/2024 11:39 AM
Pennsylvania State Senate
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=S&SPick=20230&cosponId=42492
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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: April 10, 2024 01:36 PM
From: Senator Scott Martin and Sen. Kim L. Ward, Sen. Joe Pittman, Sen. Ryan P. Aument, Sen. David G. Argall, Sen. Tracy Pennycuick
To: All Senate members
Subject: Grow PA – Post-Secondary and Career Preparation Reform
 
Pennsylvania faces significant economic and demographic challenges in the years ahead. The Center for Rural Pennsylvania projects the state’s population will grow by just 1.6 percent over the next 30 years, and Census data indicate the fastest-growing age demographic in the state is residents aged 85 or above. Additionally, the number of students graduating from Pennsylvania’s high schools has continued to decline, and we have the smallest Kindergarten class since 1986. This not only creates greater stress on the state budget due to fewer working-age adults and the growing cost to care for an aging population but also could lead to a loss of representation in Congress and less money coming back to PA from the federal government.
 
As our state grows older, more and more young people are simultaneously choosing to relocate to states with better educational and job opportunities. The best way to address this crisis is to encourage the best and brightest students – both here in Pennsylvania and throughout the country – to earn their degrees here, get jobs here, and put down roots here.
 
In the near future, we intend to introduce legislation to address these troubling trends by proposing a number of reforms in higher education, including providing better access to affordable higher education opportunities; helping recruit students to enter industry areas that will grow our economy; and better retaining our talented young Pennsylvanians after graduation.
 
Our legislation, Grow PA, will be in a multi-bill package and will address the following areas:
 
  • Creating the Build PA Scholarship Grant Program, which will encourage Pennsylvania students to enter industries that grow the economy;
  • Creating a Merit Scholarship Program, that will incentivize young people to move to PA and enter certain fields of study, while remaining here after graduation;
  • Expanding the Ready to Succeed Scholarship Program;
  • Expanding participation in the Targeted Industry Support Program to provide more certificate-based learning opportunities;
  • Increasing dual enrollment opportunities;
  • Providing historic investments in career and technical education while addressing obsolete program requirements that serve as unnecessary educational program barriers to critically needed career fields;
  • Expanding the state’s existing Foster/Adopted Child Program nationwide;
  • Encouraging universal FAFSA completion so students and families know what financial aid packages are available to them; and
  • Creating a performance-based funding model for state-related universities.
For decades, we have heard the concerns of parents and families about the cost of education and the amount of student indebtedness. We must ensure students and their families are able to make informed decisions about their education and career training options. It is equally critical that we find ways to address the needs of our workforce across Pennsylvania; we need skilled workers in a wide array of fields, and we need our Commonwealth to grow.
 
While Governor Shapiro’s broad higher education blueprint shares some of these same concepts, our focus will be on empowering PA families, not building bigger government systems and adding new layers of bureaucracy. This means supporting students first and giving them the tools they need to learn here and build their lives here after graduation, while making Pennsylvania a magnet for new jobs and economic opportunities.
 
In the weeks ahead, we will introduce our outcomes-based, post-secondary and career preparation reform package, one in which we are giving back to students and families, keeping student costs down, and preparing for our future.
 
Please join us in co-sponsoring this important legislation. 



Introduced as SB1150