Saturday, July 8, 2017

So what did the Legislature pass?

Yesterday, the House and Senate both passed a budget agreed to by conference committee. It was filed that morning, meaning, as noted by State House News reporter Katie Lannan:
Not, let's say, a triumph for public process. Among other issues, this got us a IIA report, which puts the numbers and account numbers in a spreadsheet, which included only the House numbers, not the conference committee numbers (causing some of  us not a small degree of angst!).

The budget now goes to the Governor, who has ten days to consider it and, if he wishes, to issue vetoes, which, in its turn, the Legislature can override. In other words: we're closer, but we're not done yet.

So what's in it for public education?

Chapter 70 came back at $4.746B, which is right between the House and the Senate numbers. As best as I can tell--I have yet to find the actual Chapter 70 language on this--they did this by keeping the $30/pupil minimum increase, keeping--and possibly adding to?--the insurance increase in the foundation budget, but not taking on the Senate's special education implementation of the Foundation Budget Review Committee's recommendation. Let me emphasize that on my part that is SPECULATION, again, because I haven't seen either an explanation or actual language (which should have been part of H3800). That means that most foundation budgets will be higher than both House 1 and the passed House budget, but not as high as they would have been with the Senate budget. As for state aid, the majority of districts were seeing their increase through the $30/pupil, so that doesn't change ('though do recall that the Governor's budget had set that at $20/pupil, so our foundation budget charts are not yet updated). And if anyone finds or has the actual language, please let me know; I'd be interested.

This means, of course, that two years on from the Foundation Budget Review Commission, with districts across the state repeating that we need finance reform, the only change we saw was the fragmentary one in health insurance. This isn't how one truly values public education.

Oh, and Senator Chang-Diaz was one of two votes against it.

The Department's budget is just over $14M, and continues to contain a boatload of earmarks, which I won't go into here, 'though at some point I have a whole rant on that.

METCO is $20.5M, splitting the difference between House and Senate.

Regional transportation reimbursement is $61.5M (which had been as high as $62M, so it also splits the difference).

The circuit breaker, something specified by Senator Karen Spilka as a "painful" cut, passed at $281,231,181, lower than BOTH House and Senate. Note, however, that it is $50,000 lower than what the Senate passed, which, in a budget of this size (and an account of this size) makes that more of a symbolic cut than anything.

Likewise, McKinney-Vento reimbursement was cut from both houses, being passed at just over $80M; this is an account which has never been fully funded.

Note that all of these previous three are reimbursements, meaning the district fronts the money and gets the money back from the state afterwards. There is here, then, less of a hit on the starting end, but we'll see budgets straining on by midyear.

Targeted intervention in underperforming schools passed at $7.2M, which is lower than either house had passed.

The MCAS line passed at $26.9M, also lower than either budget previously passed.

Extended learning time passed at $13.9M, lower than either.

Innovation schools split the different with a budget of $165,000; that's $150,000 with $15,000 earmarked for Pentucket Regional.

There had been no difference in the amount set aside for charter school reimbursement--an acknowledged-as-underfunded $80.5M--so that passed as previous.

Those are most of the major lines. As always, if you have questions, please let me know.

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