Recess: Budget Blues
by Angela Palm on 1/22/2010

Last Friday the Governor released his recommendations for the supplemental 2010 and 2011 budgets, and on Tuesday he addressed the Joint Appropriations Committees.  He said his philosophy as he did these budgets was investing for the future.  He told them the additional three furlough days in 2010 are the equivalent of laying off 2,000 teachers.  The Governor said he did not include furloughs in 2011 because this is not a sustainable strategy for the state; there is a need to "rightsize."  Since rightsizing the number of teachers would have to mean larger classes, does that mean he supports relaxing class size rules?

He is estimating that revenue will be flat the rest of the year resulting in the need to reduce the 2010 estimate by $1.2 billion.  The FY 2011 revenue estimate is based on 4.2% growth, but he cautioned committee members not to get excited about extra money.  The loss of one time funds and growth in programs will require more cuts.  State Fiscal Economist Dr. Ken Heaghley explained further that the revenue estimate assumes job growth will resume modestly April - June 2010.  It also includes an estimated $23 million from super speeder fines and the new hospital tax.  Heaghley said it will take until 2014 for us to get back to the revenue peak of 2007.

State Supt. Kathy Cox spoke to the committees Wednesday and emphasized the cash flow crisis.  She reminded them of the constitutional obligation to public education and urged them to support as much flexibility to systems as possible.  Supt. Cox explained that most federal funds have limited uses.  Over one million students are in non-Title I schools, and IDEA funds can be used only for 180,000 students.


Down to The Nitty Gritty

Deep Throat said "follow the money," but that's easier said than done lately with the state budgets.  Following is a summary of some of the cuts to education.  Links to the actual budget documents are in the first paragraph.  The education portion is on pages 118-129 in the supplemental budget and on pages 172-185 in the 2011.  A document that tracks the 2010 changes is available here.

Please note the Governor's recommendations for the rest of 2010 include his July order for withholding funds; the numbers just got bigger.

  2010 Budget As Passed Proposed Supplemental Budget Total Cuts FY 2011
QBE Austerity Cut $654.4 million $281.2 million $935.6 million $1.2 billion
Furloughs, Certified Personnel $0 $187.8 million $187.8 million $0
Equalization Cut $112.4 million $17.5 million $130 million Unknown, proposes base to change from 5 mills to 8 mills
Transportation Cut $2.5 million $2.3 million (bus driver furloughs) $4.8 millon $0 (uses bonds to replace buses)
National Board Certified Cut $8.7 million $288, 379 $8.9 million Eliminates the program
School Nurses Cut $900,000 $1.2 million $2.1 million $1.6 million


Forest Land Protection Act Reimbursement

In November 2008, 68% of the voters approved a Constitutional amendment to allow a tax break for preserving more forest land with the state reimbursing local governments for most of the foregone revenue.  Unfortunately there is no such reimbursement in these budgets.  Local boards that have been impacted by this should make their legislators aware of the situation.


Remember the budget process is a long and winding one, and this is just the beginning.  Legislators have many difficult decisions ahead of them in this election year, so arm yourselves with facts, figures, and suggestions.