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Pennsylvania schools would get billions more under Democratic plan passed by the state House

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A Democratic-sponsored proposal to boost public school funding by billions in the coming years and impose stricter rules on cyber-charter schools passed the Pennsylvania House on Monday in a test of political will as lawmakers haggle over the state budget.

The bill responds to a report issued in January that said Pennsylvania underfunds public school districts by more than $5 billion annually and recommended phasing in increases over several years. The proposed legislation would set up a new formula to distribute state education aid but does not include an appropriation of the money to fund it.

Five Republican lawmakers voted with all Democrats to approve the measure, which passed 107-94 and was sent to the state Senate.

Majority Leader Matt Bradford, D-Montgomery, said the state’s current system of doling out support has failed, calling it unconstitutional. Phased in over seven years, the measure would eventually increase state support by about $7 billion annually.

“What we’re doing is what the court has told us to do, to give every child in this commonwealth an equitable and fair public education,” Bradford said during floor debate. “This isn’t politics, this is a constitutional requirement, one that this body has failed for too long.”

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