Opportunity Delayed: FY 2021 Governor’s Budget for K-12 Funding Falls Short by $74M for Low-Income Kids
As part of implementing the Commonwealth’s new school funding law, the Student Opportunity Act (SOA), the Governor proposed increasing Chapter 70 aid by $303.5 million over current levels in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 budget. In this first year, the Governor delivers on one-seventh (14 percent) of the SOA reforms in most areas—special education, health care for educators, social-emotional support, and increments for English Language Learners—keeping those reforms on track for full implementation in seven years. However, not all of the SOA reforms are consistently or equitably phased in by the Governor’s proposal despite this goal being outlined in the law. One critical area that is not on track—increased support for students from low-income families through Low-Income Rates.
With a new commitment to increasing state K-12 education funding and the ever more obvious need to repair and upgrade our transportation systems, will lawmakers have the revenue to make the necessary investments in these and other budget priorities?
The Governor’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 budget proposal provides modest increases in funding for public education, human services, and several other important investments. This new funding does not, in many cases, reverse deep cuts imposed across the state budget after the tax cuts of the late 1990s and early 2000s — despite a decade of expansion in the economy. Lost revenue from tax cuts has limited the Commonwealth’s ability to adequately fund education, infrastructure, and other building blocks of healthy communities and a strong economy.
Anyone who has set foot in a public school, driven on a road, or gone to a public park has been touched by the state budget. What we fund in our state budget reflects what we deem important.
None of these essential services would be possible without the revenue to pay for it. Further, it is important to consider whether the state is raising revenue fairly.
As the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 budget debates kick off this week, here are five questions to consider.