The General Assembly has been catching much-deserved criticism for refusing to subject its budget plan to the normal amendment process. That decision is undemocratic and self-defeating, undoubtedly leading to lower-quality policies and unintended negative consequences. But lawmakers deserve to be commended for completing its budget in a timely fashion, providing school districts additional budget planning time to prepare for the upcoming school year.
Of course, it’s easy to complete a budget in a timely manner when lawmakers aren’t interested in seriously addressing the funding shortfalls faced by our public schools.
Ultimately, 2018’s secretive budget negotiations increased already-planned FY 18-19 public schools budgets by just 0.6 percent. Rather than address persistent funding shortfalls, legislators have allowed another round of tax cuts to move forward, draining state coffers by $900 million.
Once again, additional public school funds are mostly directed at increased salary and benefit costs, with little investment that would actually expand school district resources. Of the 24 biggest allotments in FY 08-09, 18 remain below their pre-Recession levels when adjusted for inflation and student growth. For example, funding for textbooks is down 39 percent from pre-Recession levels. Funding for supplies remains 55 percent below pre-Recession levels. And funding for teacher assistants remains 35 percent below pre-Recession levels. Read more