Thursday, April 25, 2013

State Legislature Budget Report from Tri-County Alliance

A REPRINT from the Tri-County Alliance for Public Education -

Yesterday afternoon, both the House and Senate passed their versions of the FY 13-14 School Aid budgets. This is meant to give you a brief look at what happened.

What's clear is that our voices helped move the needle in the Senate, although we have a long way to go over the next 5-6 weeks. Stay tuned for more ways to help us achieve a budget that our schools and students deserve.


-Both continue the disinvestment of public education by providing fewer classroom dollars than last year.

-Both divert $400 million dollars to subsidize higher education.

-Both contain gimmicks of the Oxford Foundation, most notably in Sec. 21f which provides "vouchers to vendors" by forcing districts to send taxpayer dollars to, and be academically accountable for, private and for-profit vendors providing online curriculum and instruction.

-Both contain an EAA slush fund ($8M in Senate, $7M in House).


Here are two noteworthy changes the House made on the floor:

-They decreased GSRP by $12M and instead shifted that $12M to the equity categorical. This change will boost the equity payment from $34 per pupil to $50 per pupil, raising the minimum foundation grant to $7,016.

-The House also added – without any debate or recorded vote - a Rep. Tom McMillin (R-Rochester) amendment specifically prohibiting the Department of Education from spending any money on either the Common Core standards or Smarter Balance Assessments.


The Senate made several changes to their budget:

-They adopted the following amendments by Sen. Patrick Colbeck (R-Canton):

-Restoring the $155M MPSERS offset categorical, which was eliminated in subcommittee.

-Eliminated the $22M Education "reserve fund".

-Eliminated the $34 per pupil equity payment to districts receiving the minimum foundation.

-Increased the basic foundation grant up to $8,078 per pupil.

-They adopted an amendment from Senator Hoon-Yung Hopgood (D-Taylor) that stripped language related to the Governor's secret "skunk works" project.

While the Senate made positive progress, there is still a long way to go before we are supportive.


Normally, both chambers will reject the other's budgets, setting up the conference committee process to engage after the May Revenue Estimating Conference, which is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Wednesday, May 15. Here, they will determine whether January estimates were too high, too low or fairly steady. Revised budget targets will be agreed to and the conference committee process will start in earnest. They hope to finalize all budgets around June 1, 2013.