By Sam Walseth, MREA Lobbyist
As the revenue debate comes into focus so does a reality check on the likelihood of education funding for the next two years. A couple of things seems almost certain.
First, about $45 million will be spent on early childhood scholarships in the next two years.
Second, all day, every day kindergarten will become a state paid for reality in the vast majority of districts by the school year starting in September of 2014.
What is less clear is how much funding will be available for the existing funding formula. The Senate and Governor didn’t place much of a priority in this area and include a 1% increase for next year and no increase beyond all day K funding in the second year. The House by contrast has revenue to increase the basic allowance by 2% in each of the next two years.
While 1% and 2% doesn’t sound like a big difference, compounded over two years, it leads to an almost $200 million difference between where the Senate/Governor are at compared to the House plan.
The Senate E-12 target of $486 million is closer to the House target of $550 than the Governor who came in at $344 for E-12 education. However, when you take out the $150 million the Senate spends on buying back several school levies, the amount of aid for the K-12 classroom gets closer to the Governor’s level of funding.
You can look at MREA’s comparison document for the three proposals to see more details on each of them.
We haven’t talked much this session about special education funding because it hasn’t been a top priority for the House and Senate. The Governor did included special education funding in his proposal and we shouldn’t be surprised to see that make its way back into the E-12 funding debate in leadership negotiations.