(Part-1) Democrats' education spending study argues Pennsylvania owes school districts $5B more.

 A committee evaluating Pennsylvania's public school financing barely endorsed a report Thursday that claims the state is underfunding districts by more than $5 billion and should fill the gap quickly.

Democrats and Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro's administration supported the Basic Education Funding Commission findings. Republican and one Democrat on the commission voted 8-7 against it. The report advised the state to quickly fix a $5 billion school budget imbalance by phasing in greater help over seven years.

The report differs from what landmark court case-winning school districts seek from the state. State funding was recommended to rise by $6.2 billion over five years by the districts' attorneys.

A separate Republican report was defeated party-line in a Capitol hearing chamber. The Democrats' report just makes suggestions, without requiring Shapiro or Pennsylvania's split Legislature to act.

Democrats believe it provides a roadmap for this year's budget and future budgets to address last year's court ruling that Pennsylvania's public school funding structure violates poorer pupils' constitutional rights.

“This is the end of the beginning,” commission co-chair Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, said at the meeting. “A lot of work remains.” The Democratic report pleased teacher unions and lawyers for districts that won last year's court fight.

House Minority Leader Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster, called the study a “simply spend more money” answer to Pennsylvania's school financing issues.

The Republican report stated districts should outline instructional improvements to improve student accomplishment but did not specify how much extra K-12 education should cost.

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