Weekly News Roundup

Friday News Roundup: Week of December 31-January 4

January 4, 2013

Despite surplus, Michigan may need to cut school spending in 2013

Connecticut task force recommends significant changes to district funding formula

California Governor Jerry Brown to propose major changes to district funding allocation

Maine governor orders $35.5M in temporary state spending cuts, including $12.6M in school aid

Despite surplus, Michigan may need to cut school spending in 2013
In spite of a $1.04 billion dollar surplus for fiscal year 2012, Michigan may have to cut education funding for 2013 by $150 per student, according to a new report from the Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency. Revenue has decreased significantly this year after Michigan enacted a law that eliminated $1.8 billion in business taxes in an effort to spur economic growth in a state plagued by high unemployment rates. The Senate Fiscal Agency report claims that the economy did not grow as much as it had predicted back in May, thus decreasing projected revenue and increasing the cost of the tax cuts. Now, lawmakers will not be able to use the fiscal year 2012 surplus to plug holes in the current 2013 budget, as they had planned. More here…

Connecticut task force recommends significant changes to district funding formula
A task force established by Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy, the Governor’s Education Cost Sharing Task Force, will recommend drastic changes to the formula that allocates $1.9 billion of state funds to school districts. The new formula could double or triple funding to underfunded school districts such as Bridgeport and Norwalk. The group’s recommendations would alter the formula to include more recent household income data, use free and reduced-priced lunch enrollment to measure poverty in each district, and more equally weigh income and property values in the formula. The proposal also includes a strong endorsement of magnet and charter schools, as well as technical high schools. It acknowledges the state’s fiscal constraints in recent years, but calls for full funding of the education formula within six years. At least one outside organization, the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM), praised the report, saying that it addresses many of the concerns highlighted by CCM in recent years. More here…

California Governor Jerry Brown to propose major changes to district funding allocation
California Governor Jerry Brown hopes to shift the method of funding schools in California to streamline bureaucratic costs and target more funds to low-income students and English language learners. Besides attempting to make the funding system more equitable by re-appropriating funds to the neediest students, Brown hopes to eliminate cumbersome rules that limit how local school districts can spend money. Nearly 40 percent of state and federal funds are earmarked for a specific program, according to a study from the Public Policy Institute of California; the California Department of Finance found that in fiscal year 2012, 56 of those programs accounted for $11.8 billion of the state budget. Brown’s proposed reforms, which he postponed until after a November referendum to increase taxes for education and other programs, are expected to face resistance from multiple fronts. More here…

Maine governor orders $35.5M in temporary state spending cuts, including $12.6M in school aid
Maine Governor Paul LePage this week issued an order to all state agencies to cut $35.5 million to the current fiscal year 2012-2013 budget because state revenue projections fell short of predictions. Of the $35.5 million cut across state agencies, a large share – $12.6 million – will come from state funds directed to schools. Many school districts had begun planning for the budget cuts at the beginning of December, when new revenue projections led state Finance Commissioner Sawin Millett to recommend such a “curtailment” to the governor. However, per state law, the cuts are temporary and must be applied as evenly as possible to all state programs until the state legislature passes its own spending package. The governor’s office plans to propose another budget plan to resolve a $100 million shortfall in Maine’s Medicaid program at the same time it proposes the fiscal years 2014-2015 biennial budget later this month. The legislature reconvenes next week on January 8, and plans to take up the supplemental budget soon. More here…

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