When the General Assembly convened back in January, their assignment was to enact an education budget that put the state on the path towards providing students with “sound basic” schools by 2028. The state’s long-running Leandro court case even provided legislators with a step-by-step guide to the investments and policy changes necessary to complete the assignment.
With this week’s unveiling of the conference budget proposal – four and half months past its due date – we know the assignment was not only late, but woefully incomplete.
The key takeaway from this budget is that it fails to fund the Leandro Comprehensive Remedial Plan. In June, Superior Court judge W. David Lee ordered the state to implement the plan in full. After several months of foot-dragging and secret negotiations, the General Assembly’s budget falls far short. The budget funds just 53 percent of the Plan in FY 21-22, falling to 43 percent in FY 22-23 (full detail can be found here).
To the extent that this budget proposal funds items from the Leandro Plan, they are almost entirely concentrated in educator pay raises that barely keep pace with inflation. At a time when the core consumer price index has risen 4.6 percent over the prior year, the budget will provide teachers with an average raise of just 2.5 percent in each year of the biennium. Read more