Over the course of his career, Senator Costa has been a strong, effective promoter of education. Having successfully sought additional funding for K-12 education, higher education and pre-school he is recognized as one of the General Assembly’s leaders in education.
The Senate Democratic Caucus has consistently voted for common sense public education improvement initiatives including Pre-K, full day kindergarten, smaller class size and tutoring assistance that have resulted in increased test scores in math and reading for Pennsylvania students. The caucus has worked to include greater funding for community colleges that provide job training and college studies for workers and students close to home.
Legislation I’m Working On
Senate Bill 790 – First Chance Trust Fund
This legislation establishes a public charitable trust to help reverse the direction of prison-bound youth in Pennsylvania.
At‐risk youth continue to enter the justice system at alarming rates. Additionally, there are more than 81,000 Pennsylvania children with a parent in a prison. That absence, which some psychologists have compared to the death of a parent, through the formative years can have many deleterious effects on a child. Dealing with the emotional, social and economic consequences of that loss can trigger behavioral problems, lead to trouble in school and the possibility of dropping out and continuing the cycle of crime.
What Senator Costa & the Senate Democrats have done:
Make a Commitment to Fund Schools at the State Level
Pennsylvania’s constitution requires that, “The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education to serve the needs of the Commonwealth.” This is not a requirement that the Legislature is fulfilling. While the Senate Democrats have prioritized education funding and made great strides at increases, we still have not achieved the goal of funding public education by 50% at the state level.
Make Higher Ed Accessible
Higher Education has become integral in today’s high-tech, internationally competitive workplace. However, Pennsylvania now has the 2nd highest student tuition debt among the states, indicating a system that is costly and prohibitive to enter. Community colleges and state system of higher education must be made more affordable so that everyone that wants to continue their education past high school has an opportunity to do so.
Ensure that Children are Prepared for School
Early childhood education and pre-K, after school and tutoring programs, nutrition and health supports, among other social services provide an important source of assistance to make sure that children are not just in the classroom, but ready to learn.
Retain Highly Skilled and Experienced Educators
Teachers are the backbone of the education system. They must be protected from vicious and unfair ideological attacks and provided with safe working conditions, reasonable compensation and benefits, and ongoing professional development opportunities so that they remain on the cutting edge of their practice.
Pittsburgh, PA − January 16, 2019 − Senator Costa released the below statement on Penn Hill School District:
Today, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) announced that the Penn Hills School District will be taking its next steps toward complete financial recovery by entering the Commonwealth’s Financial Recovery Program. While in financial watch status PDE identified several areas that the district can improve upon to put it on solid financial footing. This new program will bring expert staff and new resources to Penn Hills to ensure that they stay on course to full financial recovery, while maintaining local control.read more
Senators Costa & Fontana Congratulate Pittsburgh School District on $1.6 Million State Education Grant
Pittsburgh, Pa. − August 27, 2018 − Senators Jay Costa, Jr. and Wayne D. Fontana jointly congratulated the Pittsburgh School District on the award of $1.6 million from the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) to support school improvement. “I want to...read more
Pa Senate Democrats Applaud On-Time Budget with Investments in Education, Health Care, Workforce Development and Social Justice
HARRISBURG, PA − June 22, 2018 − The Pennsylvania Senate passed the state budget for Fiscal Year 2018-19 (House Bill 2121) by a vote of 47-2. “In January, the Senate Democratic caucus outlined our priorities for the year and this budget puts the money where our mouths...read more
Harrisburg, April 21, 2017 — Efforts to educate local students about environmental issues will be bolstered by more than $50,000 in state Environmental Education Grant funding, Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) announced today. “There is nothing more important than providing...read more
Harrisburg, July 10, 2016 - Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) and Senate Democratic Appropriations Chair Vincent J. Hughes (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery) released the following comments in support of Gov. Tom Wolf's announcement that he was allowing the...read more
Harrisburg – Feb. 9, 2016 – Facing an unfinished 2015-16 budget with the need to reconcile a 2016-17 spending plan that has a looming $2 billion deficit, Gov. Tom Wolf was forced to focus his second state budget proposal on education and deficit reduction, according...read more
Senator Jay Costa: Mr. President, I rise today to offer the resolution, which was pronounced that recognizes September 27th through October 3rd as Arts & Education Week here in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.read more
Harrisburg, June 18, 2015 − Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny), Sens. Andy Dinniman (D-Chester) and Rob Teplitz (D-Dauphin/Perry) who serve as members of the Basic Education Funding Commission (BEFC) today hailed the new proposed statewide education funding formula as a responsible, predicable and equitable approach that would improve education for all students.read more