Sunday, February 6, 2011

What Super Bowl? It's Budget Sunday.

The House Appropriations and Senate Finance Committees presented their budgets today, so that lobbyists would not be able to watch the Super Bowl.

I am going to offer very broad-stroke observations based on my first glance of the two proposals. More detail will follow.

First, let’s look at the FY 2012 Direct Aid to Public Education provided in each budget:

House $5,404,513,733 Senate $5,597,954,315

Remember, the Governor provided $5,497,604,129.

So the House actually cuts $93,090,396 in addition to the Governor’s cuts.

The Senate increased K-12 funding by $100,350,186.

On a per pupil basis, here is how it breaks down:

Governor: $4,519
House: $4,441
Senate: $4.600

The House calls or a 2% teacher salary bonus, and allows the imposition of the 5% employee contribution to VRS only if a 5% raise in provided.

The Senate does not mention a salary target, but provides much more money to school divisions.

In the days ahead, the House will reject the Senate budget - the Senate will reject the House budget - and a committee on conference will be appointed to come up with a joint conference proposal.

One way to pressure the House to move in the Senate's position is to attend the "Repair the Damage to Public Education" rally on February 14th.

My quotes of the day come from Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Colgan, who said:

“Despite these significant ‘short session’ restorations, we are mindful of the unprecedented magnitude of the reductions in this area over the past two years. The final FY 2010 general fund Direct Aid to Education appropriation was reduced almost 20 percent from the original appropriation, to below the FY 2007 level.”

And from Senator Yvonne Miller, who said,

“… we have elected not to reinstate payment of the five percent employee retirement contribution at this time. …Our state employees, faculty, teachers, and state-supported local government have stuck by us during these hard times. Now is not the time to thank them with a … reduction in pay.”