THE BUDGET - NEW DEVELOPMENTS
Today the Senate Committee on Finance and the House Committee on Appropriations reported their respective amendments to the 2010-2012 budget. By far, the Senate committee treated K-12 more favorably than the House Committee. As stated in the Senate Committee's report on K-12, "K-12 education is so vital to the higher education pipeline and to ongoing workforce efforts of the Commonwealth that we felt strongly that reinvestments in school aid must occur in tandem with initiatives this year in higher education and economic development. To the end, we are recommending a net $100 million more than the budget as introduced for elementary and secondary education to regain some of the ground lost during the last two Sessions." Included in this amount is $87 million representing the state's share of an additional $130 per student, and $18.4 million for the state's share of $76 per student for textbooks. The Committee also noted that "[t]he final FY 2010 general fund Direct Aid to Education appropriation was reduced almost 20 percent from the original appropriation, to below the FY 2007 level." The additional $100 million proposed by the Senate Committee will make us some of this reduced funding and is appreciated.
As stated above, the House Appropriations' Committee was not nearly as generous to K-12 as its Senate counterpart. Here are the guts of the House proposal: "included in our recommendations are a number of adjustments that will provide nearly $66.0 million in state allocations to provide a 2% bonus for teachers. School divisions will be permitted to use their Job Funds funding towards the local match. However, for those school divisions who choose not to offer a bonus, these dollars can be used to purchase buses and textbooks or be used for other high- priority educational expenditures." On the other hand, the House Committee took the second year of the LCI hold harmless funding and it reduced funding for resource teachers to pay for the state's share of a 3.3% VRS rate increase. The "good" news is that school boards do not have to pay their share of this rate increase, but the committee warned that school boards will be paying higher rates in 2013.
Here are the links to the Senate and House reports on the amendments to the 2010-2012 budget, including the reports on subcommittees on K-12 budget: