Friday News Roundup: Week of March 18-22

Colorado legislators review revisions to school funding

 

Texas House adds extra $1 billion to schools in budget

 

Washington state senators pledge $300 million more for higher education

 

Kansas state senators vote to restore $5 million in grants for KU, K-State program

 

Colorado legislators review revisions to school funding

For years, the Colorado legislature has considered revisions to the state’s complicated public education funding scheme. This week, the state legislature is debating broad changes to that funding formula, as well as close to $1 billion in tax increases across the state. Supporters think that the changes will begin to resolve the inequitable school financing that resulted in an ongoing state supreme court case this year. In part, it will do this by setting up incentives for local governments to seek local tax increases to fund schools, removing some of the state’s financial burden for public education and placing the onus on local districts. While supporters are optimistic about the school finance reforms, critics charge that the reforms hinge on voters’ approval of the tax hike, for which details are not yet available. More here...

 

Texas House adds extra $1 billion to schools in budget

Early this week, the Texas House Appropriations Committee approved an additional $1 billion for schools in its 2014-2015 biennial budget. Two years ago, the biennial budget cut public school funding by $5.4 billion; this additional $1 billion, combined with $1.5 billion already approved by the House and Senate to reinstate some of the lost funding, would restore about half of that amount. The Texas Senate did not, however, include the extra $1 billion in the budget they approved earlier this week, and the full House has yet to vote on the measure. While many point to the state’s Rainy Day Fund as evidence of sufficient funding to replace the cuts, Republican legislators and Governor Rick Perry have long opposed using the fund for recurring expenses such as education. More here...

 

Washington state senators pledge $300 million more for higher education

With Washington lawmakers already facing a more than $1 billion shortfall in the two-year budget cycle for 2013-2015, a group of state senators promised this week to increase funding for higher education by $300 million. They declined, however, to say how they would pay for the increase. The plan also includes a promise to reduce in-state tuition by 3 percent. Senator Michael Baumgartner (R), who spearheaded the plan, has said that writing a balanced budget is possible, but that it will be a matter of prioritizing where government dollars will go. Democrats in the state senate have said that they are encouraged by the prioritization of education, but would be more optimistic if they better understood the details of the Republican majority’s proposal. More here...

 

Kansas state senators vote to restore $5 million in grants for KU, K-State program

Kansas state senators voted this week to restore state grants for programs at two Kansas universities: the Cancer Center at the University of Kansas and the Animal Health Program at Kansas State University. Under the Senate plan, each school will receive $2.5 million, for a total of $5 million in additional grants for fiscal year 2014. This additional spending was offered as an amendment to the Senate’s $14.5 billion spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year. Legislators noted that both Kansas school programs are important state priorities. Other additional spending amendments were proposed, including additional spending for turnaround schools, community mental health centers, and the Creative Arts Industries Commission, but failed when put to a vote. More here...

Author:

Lindsey Tepe is a senior policy analyst with the Education Policy program at New America. She is a member of the Learning Technologies project and PreK-12 team, where she focuses primarily on innovation and new technologies in public schools.