lifeline scholarships pa

Hardy: Harrisburg Dems. Should Push Past Partisanship and Approve Lifeline Scholarships

Most Pennsylvanians support legislation to give scholarships to low-income students to escape Pennsylvania’s worst-performing public schools. Even Governor Shapiro supports the legislation. But Democrats in the state legislature stand in the way, writes Commonwealth Foundation Senior Fellow David Hardy in an op-ed in Thursday’s Philadelphia Inquirer.

“It takes guts to do what State Sen. Anthony H. Williams did,” writes Hardy. Williams was the only Democrat on the Senate Education Committee to support the legislation.

More legislators need to do the same.

Hardy writes:

During a recent state Senate Education Committee meeting, Williams delivered a fiery sermon about the sad state of affairs in his district’s public schools, sharing the frustrated pleas of parents seeking better opportunities for their kids. …

The senator challenged his colleagues to visit the schools in his district and listen to his constituents’ demands for expanding educational opportunities. …

[L]ast year, … lawmakers still couldn’t make Lifeline Scholarships a reality during the 2023–2024 budget negotiations. Pennsylvania House Democrats dug in their oppositional heels, leading to a six-month impasse.

Lacking the courage to stand up to his party, Gov. Josh Shapiro couldn’t (or wouldn’t) get the Democratic-controlled House to hold a vote on Lifeline Scholarships. Ultimately, Shapiro vetoed the budget item. …

Shapiro and the Democrats can finally deliver what so many Pennsylvanians demand, but only if they don’t allow partisanship to get in the way.

Expanded school choice is inevitable in Pennsylvania. The proverbial genie is out of the bottle, poking its head out when Shapiro supported Lifeline Scholarships on the campaign trail and in office. …

Lifeline Scholarships are that different path. All it takes is more courageous lawmakers to carve that path for the commonwealth’s most vulnerable kids.

You can read David Hardy’s entire op-ed here.


The Commonwealth Foundation turns free-market ideas into public policies, fostering prosperity for all Pennsylvanians.