Friday, January 29, 2010

When an increase feels like a cut

The Quick and the Ed has a bit more on the federal budget, pointing out that, post stimulus, a bump up in funding could well end up feeling like a cut:

When the stimulus bill passed, everyone knew that the state fiscal stabilization funding was certainly a one-time occurrence, and that states should thank the federal government for the funds, and spend it wisely on one-time things. Many in the education community felt differently about the $13 billion in Title I funds and $12.2 billion in special education funding in the stimulus package. This funding was also technically one-time funding, but there was immediately speculation as to whether some of this funding would effectively become the new base for those two programs. Assuming that this funding was spread over the 2009 and 2010 federal fiscal years, that would mean that schools were spending $12.5 billion more Title I and special education funding in 2010 than was officially in the 2010 budget.

Ed Week says that the President’s new budget will increase education spending by 6.2 percent on a $63.7 billion base. I am not sure where the $63.7 billion comes from. A quick look at the 2010 Budget shows:

Total discretionary appropriations – $63.7 billion
Title I $15.9
Special education $12.6
School Improvement $5.2

But, these numbers do not include any of the Title I and special education stimulus funds. I am assuming that the Title I and special education stimulus funds did in fact not get folded into the education base budget as many in the education community originally hoped, and that there may be a fiscal cliff coming instead of a large increase.

I'm not as sanguine as what "everyone knew" about the fiscal stabilization; the other part of what was clear about it was that it was to "stabilize." In Worcester, as in many other communities, this meant, in part, that we didn't need to layoff teachers last January.

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