shapiro budget lifeline

Pennsylvania Voters Want Shapiro to Honor the Deal He Made to Fund Lifeline Scholarships

Harrisburg, Pa., July 19, 2023 — A large, bipartisan majority of Pennsylvania voters (65%) believe Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro should honor the agreement he made with state Senate lawmakers to include Lifeline scholarships in the 2024 state budget, according to a new statewide survey conducted on behalf of the Commonwealth Foundation.

“Pennsylvanians are not only looking for Gov. Shapiro to return to the negotiating table, they are expecting him to take responsibility and step up as a leader to finalize a state budget that includes keeping his promise to help kids trapped in failing and unsafe schools,” Commonwealth Foundation Senior Vice President Erik Telford said. 

At a July 6th press conference Shapiro abdicated his leadership role, insisting, “it’s now the responsibility of the House and Senate to find a way to work together and iron out those details.”

Gov. Shapiro has attempted to distance himself from the controversy unleashed after his threat to line-item veto Lifeline Scholarship funding. A clear majority of likely voters (55%), however, believe the governor is ultimately responsible for finalizing a state budget agreement.

Scholarships for children in the state’s worst-performing schools have consistently garnered widespread, bipartisan support. Seventy-three percent of voters in the Commonwealth Foundation survey support “establishing scholarships for low-income students in Pennsylvania’s worst performing (bottom 15%) schools that would help pay for tuition to another k-12 school.”

“It is not too late for Gov. Shapiro to do the right thing and restore a vital lifeline to parents and children while rebuilding his credibility and proving he is a trustworthy leader,” Telford said. “State lawmakers should listen to their voters and finish the job they were elected to do.” 

The full poll results can be found here.

Key Insights

  • Looking for Shapiro to Lead: 
    • Voters are overwhelmingly looking for Governor Shapiro to lead, viewing him as ultimately responsible for finalizing the state budget. (55% Shapiro compared to: 22% Other/Unsure; 14% Republicans in the state legislature; and 8% Democrats in the state legislature)
  • Demand for a Biartisan Budget: 
    • More than 9-in-ten (93%) of voters say it’s important for leaders to achieve a bi-partisan budget agreement. 
  • Voters Want Shapiro to Keep His Promise: 
    • Nearly six-in-ten (57%) say Gov. Shapiro should continue to support funding scholarships for children attending the state’s worst-performing schools. Those saying the governor should support the scholarships are driven by Black/African American voters (76%), urban voters (65%), and parents (62%).
    • Nearly two-thirds (65%) of voters agree that Gov. Shapiro should honor the deal he made and fund scholarships for children attending the state’s worst-performing schools. That includes 63%-69% across all key demographics. 
  • Strong Bipartisan Support for School Choice: Strong majorities support expanding access to educational opportunities, including scholarships for kids to choose alternate schools.
    • Expanding EITC/OSTC Programs: 77% support (14% oppose; 9% unsure) “Expanding tax credit scholarships, which allow businesses to donate money to nonprofit organizations that provide scholarships to low-income and middle-income children in Pennsylvania to attend pre-kindergarten or a k-12 private school.”
    • Establishing Lifeline/P.A.S.S. Program: 73% support (18% oppose; 9% unsure) “Establishing scholarships for low-income students in Pennsylvania’s worst performing (bottom 15%) schools that would help pay for tuition to another k-12 school.”
      • Lifeline Scholarships are most popular among Democrats! 81% of Democrats support this measure; 75% of Independents; trailed by 65% of Republicans. 
    • Expanding Charter School Access: 73% support (17% oppose; 9% unsure)“Expanding access to charter schools so that all Pennsylvania children on the waiting list (at least 40,000 statewide) would be allowed to attend a charter school.”
  • Strong Opposition to Cyber Charter Cuts: 
    • Only 32% support cutting state funding for cyber charter schools by 40 percent per student, as has been proposed in HB 1422, currently under consideration by the legislature. A majority of voters (54%) oppose this measure.

The full poll results can be found here.


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