Education Funding

Colo. Plan Would Cut School Aid by $156M, Replace With Edujobs Money

By Todd Engdahl, Education News Colorado — October 25, 2010 3 min read

Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter is proposing to cut current state support of schools by $156.3 million, money he said would be replaced by the $159 million in federal Edujobs funding recently awarded to the state.

The governor announced his latest budget balancing plans to reporters Friday afternoon. He’s trying to cover a $262 million shortfall indicated by revenue forecasts last month and also wants to transfer money from a couple of severance tax funds (including one intended to fund higher ed. construction projects) to the general fund and delay some Medicaid payments.

He didn’t propose any higher education cuts, but his plan involves swapping various state and federal funds between K-12 and higher education. The net effect, according to his budget office, is no reduction for either.

The plan also includes $35 million in cost savings that will be used to maintain the state reserve at 2.5 percent.

Administration officials had quietly warned school districts not to use Edujobs cash to hire new staff or rehire people who’d been let go because of earlier state budget cuts. However, federal rules don’t allow the state to dictate specific uses of the money to school districts, although those rules do require district use the money for personnel costs.

The governor said taking state funds from K-12 won’t violate federal rules about “maintenance of effort” in supporting education. “It’s absolutely in our ability to do that.”

Ritter wouldn’t show his hand when asked about his proposed levels of K-12 and higher ed. spending for 2011-12, due to the legislative Joint Budget Committee in a little more than a week. He did say, “Higher education funding will be cut again in 2011-12 in our budget.” He also said the latest K-12 reduction won’t necessarily reduce the base he will propose for next year.

He acknowledged there will be “A significant shortfall, in the hundreds of millions,” and that whoever is elected governor is “going to have to look at cuts.”

The governor took some subtle shots at critics (Republicans) of his budget balancing efforts. “We hear a lot of rhetoric, especially these days,” Ritter said, calling such criticism “completely disingenuous.”

Every time Ritter announces a budget-balancing plan, Republican legislators ritualistically criticize it for not cutting enough, relying too heavily on transfers from various state cash funds and/or for depending on federal stimulus money. Republicans also have criticized the 2010 legislature’s decision to raise revenue by ending some tax exemptions.

Ritter was not at all defensive Friday, saying GOP tactics would have resulted in even higher cuts to education and that use of stimulus money was vital.

Noting that the state’s received $300 million from Washington this year in Edujobs funds and higher-than-standard Medicaid reimbursements, Ritter said, “If we didn’t have that money in 2010-11 those cuts would have come from K-12.” The governor’s budget office estimates that would have meant a loss of 5,000 teaching jobs and additional higher ed cuts totaling $89 million.

Overall, the state has received $1.66 billion in stimulus funds over the last three years for use in the state budget, not counting earmarked money for things such as highway construction.

Ritter did inject a bit of optimism into his meeting with reporters, saying, “The economy is stabilizing and recovering” and that “Colorado remains in better shape than many other states. … I don’t think it’s going to get worse [beyond next year] because the economy is recovering.”

State law requires the governor to propose budget balancing measures if certain levels of revenue decline are forecast. Some of the measures, though, will require legislative approval next year.

From EdNews Colorado

Ritter and the legislature have had to cover $4.5 billion in shortfalls over the last three budget years, including the current 2010-11 year. That’s been done through cuts, some revenue increases, federal aid, shifts from cash funds and other tactics.

Related Tags:

Republished with permission from Education News Colorado. Copyright © 2010 Public Education & Business Coalition. For more information, visit www.ednewscolorado.org.
A version of this article appeared in the November 03, 2010 edition of Education Week

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Culturally Relevant Pedagogy to Advance Educational Equity
Schools are welcoming students back into buildings for full-time in-person instruction in a few short weeks and now is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and systems to build
Content provided by PowerMyLearning
Classroom Technology Webinar Making Big Technology Decisions: Advice for District Leaders, Principals, and Teachers
Educators at all levels make decisions that can have a huge impact on students. That’s especially true when it comes to the use of technology, which was activated like never before to help students learn
Professional Development Webinar Expand Digital Learning by Expanding Teacher Training
This discussion will examine how things have changed and offer guidance on smart, cost-effective ways to expand digital learning efforts and train teachers to maximize the use of new technologies for learning.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Funding The Fight Over Charter School Funding in Washington, Explained
Tensions between some Democrats in Congress and charter school backers have reached a new level over proposed restrictions on federal aid.
6 min read
Image of the Capitol.
iStock/Getty
Education Funding What the House Education Spending Bill Would Do for Schools, in One Chart
House lawmakers have advanced a funding bill for next year with big increases for several education programs, but it's far from a done deal.
3 min read
Collage of Capitol dome and school
Getty
Education Funding House Democrats Pitch 'Massive Funding Increase' in Latest Education Spending Bill
The proposal would more than double aid to Title I programs for low-income students and aims to help schools address fallout from COVID-19.
4 min read
Drawing of money dropping into a jar.
iStock/Getty
Education Funding Feds Set Limits on Which Private Schools Can Get COVID-19 Relief
The Education Department's rules deal with $2.75 billion in American Rescue Plan aid set aside for private schools.
3 min read
Image of money.
TARIK KIZILKAYA/iStock/Getty