Jul. 24, 2023

By Rep. R. Lee James (R-Venango/Crawford)
One of our biggest responsibilities as a Legislature is passing a budget for each fiscal year so our core services can receive proper funding.

As this summer drags on, it’s frustrating to see no resolution to the current impasse.

On the campaign trail, Gov. Josh Shapiro promised to support the Pennsylvania Award for Student Success (PASS) Scholarship Program, which was previously referred to as the Lifeline Scholarship Program. This would have given students trapped in the state’s worst-performing schools a chance to seek education elsewhere.

He ultimately decided to back out of that promise, turning his back on the children who need help the most.

There was one comment from House Majority Leader Matt Bradford (D-Montgomery) that particularly didn’t sit well with me:
“Everything that occurred during the last few weeks was the result of blind indifference by those who thought they could force a deal upon our chamber. There was no ‘Great Betrayal.’ No one lied to the Senate Republicans. They chose to not listen.”

This is coming from the same party that held up the $45.55 billion budget over 0.2%, or $100 million, of spending that would go to students directly through the PASS Scholarship Program. Between that and the dishonesty from Gov. Shapiro, the Democrats are leading the betrayal crusade.

However, it’s not just our public school system that’s facing a crisis. Our state-related universities, some of the most expensive in the country, are out of control.

The willingness from Democrats to give them more funding, even though these institutions continue to raise tuition and fail to exhibit transparency to the public, is appalling. My colleagues and I have consistently pushed for tuition freezes, yet university officials with Pitt, Penn State and Temple promised in March to raise tuition even if they received hundreds of millions of dollars more in funding.

The genius, Albert Einstein, once said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

It’s abundantly clear that reform is needed, and it starts with funding students directly and creating a more transparent process with our universities.

It’s time for the Democrats to get on board.

Rep. R. Lee James represents the 64th District in the Pennsylvania General Assembly comprising of Venango County and parts of Crawford County.

Representative R. Lee James
64th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Nate Temple