Education Spending in R.I. Flat Amid Budget Squeeze
The following offers highlights of the recent legislative sessions. Precollegiate enrollment figures are based on fall 2007 data reported by state officials for public elementary and secondary schools. The figures for precollegiate education spending do not include federal flow-through funds, unless noted.
Gov. Donald L. Carcieri signed off on the state’s $6.9 billion budget for fiscal 2009 on June 26, including $690 million for K-12 public education in fiscal year 2009.
That is basically level with fiscal 2008’s $691 million, according to Elliot Krieger, a spokesman for the Rhode Island Department of Education.
But surviving without cuts proved to be a major accomplishment for education in a year when the legislature, which is controlled by Democrats, worked with the Republican governor to close a $425 million budget deficit.
A deal worked out in the waning days of the legislative session extends legal gambling hours at two slot-machine casinos to 24 hours a day on weekends and holidays and gives education a piece of the action.
Schools are expected to receive approximately $12.8 million extra because of the deal over fiscal 2009, though the exact amount will depend on how much ends up being wagered.
The most significant education legislation to pass allows groups of municipal leaders in the state to create public charter schools, which would be run by charter-school operators (See "Rhode Island Law Allows Municipal Leaders to Charter Schools," this issue.)
Vol. 27, Issue 43, Page 20