Pa. State Capitol 08

Indiana County school districts all received boosts in state subsidies in the 2018-19 budget approved last week by the General Assembly, House Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-Indiana, said over the weekend.

The 62nd District representative said subsidies range from $17.1 million for Indiana Area to $8.2 million for Homer-Center, while increases ranged from $192,731 (1.6 percent) for Purchase Line to $682,274 (3.9 percent) for Indiana Area.

Other funding increases:

• Blairsville-Saltsburg, $325,499 (2.2 percent) increase to $14.8 million

• Marion Center, $345,151 (2.5 percent) increase to $13.7 million

• United, $226,082 (1.9 percent) increase to $12.1 million

• Purchase Line, $192,731 (1.6 percent) increase to $12.1 million

• Penns Manor Area, $185,590 (1.8 percent) increase to $10.3 million

• Homer-Center, $197,752 (2.4 percent) increase to $8.2 million

Reed said those amounts cover state plans for basic education, special education and Ready-To-Learn Block Grants, and that the budget also provides the state’s share of district Social Security and pension expenses.

Reed also said the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, including Indiana University of Pennsylvania, will get 3.3 percent more.

“That is the correct percentage,” PASSHE spokesman Kenn Marshall said. “It amounts to a total of $15 million more.”

A breakdown of that funding was not immediately available.

“It’s not simply a matter of dividing the amount by 14 though,” Marshall said. “The larger institutions, like IUP, would be expected to receive a larger portion of the total allocation, including the increase.”

Reed said he hoped the increase would be used to make higher education more affordable for Pennsylvania students and control tuition, fees or room and board charges.

The House majority leader said the $32.7 billion spending plan as signed Friday by Gov. Tom Wolf is just 1.7 percent higher than last year’s budget, at a rate below that of inflation.

Compared to “a budget deficit in excess of over $2 billion just a few years ago,” Reed said the new budget also “significantly increases our investment in schools, colleges (and) career and technical education programs, without any tax or fee increases (and), for the first time since 2006, we are making a deposit in the state’s Rainy Day Fund.”

Reed said it includes $4 million in state funds and $7.3 million in federal money for a reimbursement rate increase for EMS agencies.

“Importantly, our ambulance services will also see an increase in reimbursement rates for the first time in years,” he said.

Reed said other key increases in the budget include about $7 million more for the departments of Agriculture and Environmental Protection; and about $8 million more for the departments of Health and Veterans Affairs.