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Friday News Roundup: Week of October 31-November 4

Published:  November 4, 2011

In Texas, Proposition 6 would tap trust fund for more education dollars

South Carolina agency seeks to restore funds cut from colleges

Colorado voters reject tax hikes for education

University of Alaska regents vote to ask state for more funding

In Texas, Proposition 6 would tap trust fund for more education dollars
The Texas trust fund for public education is, at $25 billion, the largest in the nation, but payments have remained fairly stable over time. In spite of a fiscal year 2012-2013 budget that will cut $4 billion over two years from education, lawmakers have not altered the formula for the distribution of those funds. Proposition 6, on Texas ballots next week, would alter the funding formula to allow schools to withdraw more funding from the trust fund. Under the change, the distribution of funds to education would include more revenue streams in the trust fund, and would allow the state land office, which manages a portion of the fund, to move money directly into the education budget. K-12 education would receive $75 million more for each of the next two years, with more available in later years. More here…

South Carolina agency seeks to restore funds cut from colleges
The South Carolina Commission on Higher Education presented its budget request for fiscal year 2013 to the board of the commission this week. The request, though, doesn’t specify an amount of money for the higher education budget. Instead, the agency says it is requesting that the state turn spending around from the substantial cuts the system has experienced in the past two fiscal years. A letter to Governor Nikki Haley from the executive director of the commission cites $346 million in state funding cuts to higher education since 2008 and the expiration of federal stimulus money as causes of a large decline in the availability of resources for higher education institutions. The request also includes an appeal for the state to issue bonds for the renovation and replacement of college facilities; the state has issued no bonds for higher education since 2000. The proposal, which was due by September 30, will factor into the governor’s January budget proposal to the state legislature for fiscal year 2013. More here…

Colorado voters reject tax hikes for education
Elections held this week in Colorado included measures to fund public education through increases in state income and sales taxes. The tax hikes were defeated nearly two-to-one by voters. The increase, Proposition 103, would have pulled in about $2.9 billion for the state’s K-12 education system over five years. Analysts said that, given the struggling economy and lack of bipartisan support for the proposition led by Democratic state Senator Rollie Heath, the results of Tuesday’s election did not come as a surprise. But supporters of the measure, pointing to this year’s state budget gap that cut funding for public education by over $225 million in fiscal year 2012, are still concerned about school funding in the coming years. More here…

University of Alaska regents vote to ask state for more funding
The University of Alaska Board of Regents voted this week to request $368 million from the state for fiscal year 2013, an increase in state funding of more than 4 percent over the current fiscal year. Additional expenses include salaries, maintenance and facilities costs, and growing utility costs. Suggestions at the meeting to expand the budget further for construction of new facilities on two campuses were withdrawn in favor of a focus on maintenance next year. Governor Sean Parnell had asked that budget requests remain flat over the current fiscal year, but university officials said that $1.5 million in additional student advising and tutoring would help improve the school’s graduation rates. The budget was approved with only one dissenting vote. More here…

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