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Judge rules Pennsylvania’s K-12 public school funding system unconstitutional

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA

On today’s episode of The Confluence: 

After filing suit in 2014, a judge rules the system for funding K-12 Pennsylvania’s public schools is unconstitutional 
(0:00 - 9:10)

A Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court judge ruled on Tuesday that the state’s school funding system is unconstitutional. This ruling from Judge Renée Cohn Jubelirer is in response to a lawsuit filed nine years ago by a collection of organizations, parents, and schools.

This decision comes after a four-monthslong trial that concluded nearly a year ago. The ruling could mark the beginning for officials to change how states fund education and comply with the mandated Education Clause of the state Constitution.

“What's interesting in this case is no one came out and said, ‘You know, Pennsylvania's school system, the way it's funded, is absolutely perfect.’ But the defendants in this case argued, ‘Hey, the General Assembly gets to decide how schools are funded. If people have an issue with that, elections happen every year. You can take your opinion to the ballot box,’” says Marley Parish, a reporter with the Pennsylvania Capital Star.

Parish also says that Judge Cohn Jubelirer did not specify how states should be funded. An appeal to this decision is likely.

Pittsburghers for Public Transit study reveals routes have become less reliable
(9:23- 18:39)

Yesterday, Pittsburghers for Public Transit released a study showing that throughout 2022, a third of Pittsburgh Regional Transit routes had less than 50% reliability for at least a month or more.

That means people were left waiting at transit stops, and either their expected transit ride never came or was very late.

Laura Chu Wiens, executive director with Pittsburghers for Public Transit, says there is a disconnect between management and riders about what is causing schedule delays.

“People are having to make decisions around whether they walk long distances in the dark when their bus doesn't show up or pay three hours wages that they just earned to be able to get home on an Uber. And those are the kind of trade offs we shouldn't be seeing,” says Chu Wiens.

Chu Wiens says the city council has a responsibility to address these issues, and this is just the first step in an ongoing conversation.

The ‘SNAP’ food assistance program will soon begin distributing less to participants
(18:45 - 22:30)

People who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, commonly called SNAP or food stamps, will be receiving much less assistance starting next month.

That’s because extra pandemic-related payments are set to end in Pennsylvania and many other states in February. 90.5 WESA’s Kate Giammarise has more on what that will mean.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in Monday to Thursday at 9 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts. 

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