Harrisburg, Dec. 13, 2023 – State Sen. Jim Brewster today praised completion of a final state budget package that will help Pennsylvania ease the teacher shortage and boost help for parents struggling with child-care costs while ending a nearly 6-month impasse over vouchers for private schools.

“The bills we passed today was a thoughtful and reasonable compromise that will help recruit teachers, support parents, and allow federal funding to flow to school mental health programs,” Brewster said. “Passage of the final bills addresses my priorities and shows that we can get together and work toward resolving the issues that face Pennsylvanians.”

The completed School Code creates a stipend program for student teachers that will grant up to $15,000 for those struggling trying to complete their teacher training.

“Good teachers are the foundation of our education system which, in turn, is the foundation of our economy and our quality of life,” Brewster said. “Pennsylvania has seen a sharp decline in teacher certifications and this program should help stem that decline and encourage young Pennsylvanians to become teachers.”

The completion of the negotiations also means $100 million in federal aid can be directed to schools for mental health services while another $75 million has been targeted to clean up lead, mold, and asbestos in aging school buildings. Parents will benefit from a boost in the child-care tax credit from 30 percent of the federal child-care and dependent tax credit to 100 percent.  The credit is based on income, but the change would nearly triple the maximum state credit from $630 to $2,100.”

“This boost will provide families with more flexibility and better support working parents who have been struggling with the economic balance of work and family.  It’s a win for families and employers,” Brewster said.

The budget agreement increases by $130 million the amount that can be awarded in tax breaks to businesses that donate to private and religious schools while increasing oversight on that program to track its fairness to marginalized students.

The plan also contains $7.5 million in first-ever state aid for overwhelmed public defenders offices in Pennsylvania and $50 million for struggling hospitals and health systems.”

For more budget details, go to www.pasenate.com/budget.