Tuesday, April 5, 2011

House budget released . . .

The feedback on Facebook was cautionary - it can become a time killer.  This is something I don't need more of, but I am still going to have Walt give me a lesson on it next week. 

Something of greater concern is the release this week of the budget by the state house.  The majority democrats unveiled it today showing how they would make up the $5 billion deficit.  A WASA summary can be found here.

No surprises include the following:
  • Suspension of both I-728 and I-732, the class size and cost of living measures.  This was expected as they were cut in the supplemental budget passed this year.
  • Reducing K-4 funding, again a repeat of the supplemental.
Some surprises at least for me include the following:
  • Fully funding local effort assistance (LEA), something that we fully expected to see reduced.  Lobbying by smaller districts that rely on this funding was a factor in this decision.
  • Funding highly capable, a small amount of money that has a big lobby behind it.
  • Reducing instead of cutting funding for the national board certification program.
  • Funding the revised pupil transportation formula without changing the depreciation schedule.
The budget also freezes teachers on the state teacher salary schedule for the biennium. Teachers will not receive experience or education credits for the next two years, meaning they stay in the same cell on the salary schedule.  Given the current economic situation and the national discussion on teacher quality, the legislators are seeing this as something that will be accepted  and perhaps expected by many.

Some of this hurts and some helps our situation.  There is still much to learn as the Senate version is still to come and the House version is very different than the Governor's budget.  I'll let you know when the Senate version is released including a comparison of the three budgets and the negotiations that must follow.  Time is running short if they are to conclude their work within the allotted time for the regular session.

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