March revenue forecast down again, but $6.0 billion still possible for schools
by Kent Hunsaker, Executive Director
This morning the state’s revenue forecast was updated. Below is a summary:
- Total General Fund Revenue dropped by $182.8 Million
- Lottery Resources dropped by $9.9 Million
- Overall Revenues dropped by $192.8 Million
- These revenue losses also included an additional cost for the Business Energy Credits of $75 million, however, on Friday the House voted to reduce this cost by $55 million. This action will lower the overall revenue loss to $137.8 million.
This forecast continues the trend of lower economic forecasts for the state. When I heard the forecast, I thought it meant that our funding for 2009-11 would be restricted to $5.86B under the method of calculation we had been told about. However, after meeting with Speaker Hunt and Paul Warner today, there are two factors that will impact our funding for the biennium.
The first is a change in the calculation of the trigger for the extra $200 million for education. After the forecast today, I have been told by Paul Warner that the “new” method of calculating the trigger would result in $123 million additional going to education rather than about $60 million. That would bring the total funding for education to $5.923B, if this revenue forecast holds through May. It is also historically important to note that the May revenue forecast is almost always higher than previous forecasts.
The second is a desire by leadership to fund education at $6.0B and to do it in this special session and not wait for the May forecast. The only barrier we experiencing in our advocacy for $6.0B is the belief from legislative leaders that this level of allocation will not prevent significant reductions in services to kids from what districts are now funding. In other words, there is support from leadership for finding a way to get to $6.0B, but they are not likely to do it if districts will cut services to kids (higher class sizes, fewer teachers, fewer school days, etc).
So, we will be developing a brief survey of school districts with a very short turnaround time to gauge what will happen if the Legislature approves funding for schools at $6.0B in this special session. Obviously, we are hoping to hear that this level of funding will allow the present level of services to continue and that in some cases where districts have budgeted at fairly low levels, services to kids will increase. However, we know there are special circumstances in districts that may influence their ability to maintain the level of services for 2009-10 in 2010-11 – examples would be a significant change in student enrollment, significant change in education foundation support or requirements of employee contracts.
I have had a bunch of calls today asking me what is a safe number to base your budget on after the revenue forecast today. My answer has been $5.9B. However, I think we have a real chance to get this Legislature to $6.0B in the next several weeks and we will be working hard to do exactly that.
This page was last updated on Monday, February 08, 2010 .