Comparing Senate, Assembly GOP K-12 Budget Plans

Here we compare the Senate Republican plan released on July 12 and the Assembly Republican plan released on June 6 on  some of the major K-12 provisions in the state budget bill and the WASB position on those provisions:

Per-Pupil Categorical Aid

Senate/Governor: Increase per-pupil aid $200 in 2017-18 and $204 in 2018-19.

Assembly: Increase per-pupil aid $150 in 2017-18 and $200 in 2018-19.

WASB: has supported the $200/$204 per pupil increase since it was first proposed by the Governor.

Health Care Cost-Shift Mandate

Senate/Assembly: Delete the proposed requirement that a school district must certify that its employees will be required to pay at least 12% of costs and payments associated with its employee health coverage plans.

Senate: Instead, require districts to report annually to the state Department of Administration (DOA) regarding employee health care, including plan design, premium contributions, self-insurance contributions, deductibles, copays, coinsurance, and other methods by which employees contribute to health care costs. 

WASB: Strongly supports eliminating the 12% certification provision.

Sparsity Aid

Senate/Assembly: Delete the Governor’s proposal to increase payments from $300 to $400 per pupil and to provide $100 per pupil for sparse districts with between 745 and 1,000 pupils. Provide that any district that qualified for sparsity aid in one year but not the next would receive 50% of its prior year aid award.

WASB: Supports the increased Sparsity Aid as proposed by the Governor.

Revenue Limit Adjustment

Governor/Senate/Assembly: Maintain current law, under which there is no per-pupil adjustment in revenue limits.

WASB: Supports annual increases in revenue limits approximating inflation (CPI-U).

Low Revenue Ceiling

Senate: Increase the low revenue ceiling from the current $9,100 per pupil to $9,300 in 2017-18, $9,400 in 2018-19 and by $100 each year thereafter until this adjustment reaches $9,800 in 2022-23; maintain it at $9,800 each year thereafter.

Assembly: Increase to $9,800 per pupil in 2018-19 and each year thereafter.

WASB: Supports raising the low revenue ceiling to help historically low-spending districts. Districts with per pupil revenue authority below the dollar amount of the ceiling could increase their local levy up to this ceiling without referendum approval.

Revenue Limit Exemption for Energy Efficiency Measures

Senate: Modify the Governor’s proposal to eliminate this exemption and instead impose a two-year moratorium on energy efficiency projects.

Assembly: No change to current law was identified in the June 6 package.

WASB: Supports the exemption and the Assembly position.

Referenda Scheduling Restrictions

Senate: Effective January 1, 2018, limit school district referenda to being held only on regularly scheduled election days, with districts restricted to holding referenda on two dates per year.

Assembly:  Limit school district referenda to being held only concurrently with the Spring Election or November General Election which would amount to only 3 times in a given 2-year period.

WASB:  Opposes limits on scheduling referenda and other restrictions.

Rescinding Previously Approved Operating Referenda

Senate: Specify that a school board may reduce its revenue limit by adopting a resolution to rescind all or a portion of any increase to a district’s revenue limit approved by an operating referendum. The resolution must specify the first school year for which the reduction in the revenue limits applies.

Assembly: No provision.

Modify Shared Costs Attributable to Referenda

Senate:  Specify that, for the purpose of determining shared costs under the equalization aid formula, any amount levied by a school district in the prior year for either operating or debt service costs that were authorized by a referendum that was held after the effective date of the bill would be excluded from shared costs, if the result of excluding the amount does not increase the equalization aid for the district.

Assembly:  No provision.

WASB:   We have strong concerns that this provision would permanently bar many districts, especially lower-property wealth per pupil districts, from receiving any increase in state equalization aid as the result of passing a referendum, whether for operating or capital costs.  Any increase in district expenditures resulting from a referendum passed by those districts after the effective date of the this proposal would be borne entirely by property taxpayers.  This would reflect a big step away from the principles underlying the equalization aid formula. One of those principles is that rate at which school costs are aided through the formula is determined by comparing a school district’s per pupil tax base to the state’s guaranteed tax base under the formula.

Open Enrollment Transfer Amount

Senate: Increase transfer amount for a non-special education pupil by $100 per pupil above the current law indexing amount in each year from 2017-18 to 2020-21.  Under current law, the open enrollment transfer amount is indexed to increases in general and categorical aid to public schools in the same way per pupil payments to private voucher schools and independent charter school payments are adjusted.

Assembly: Increases the transfer amount by roughly $1,400 from the current figure (roughly $6,750 per pupil) to the charter school per pupil payment amount (currently $8,188).  The transfer amount would remain at the current law amount for virtual charter pupils.

WASB: We have strong concerns that this provision would create winners and losers among districts based on whether a district is a net importer or net exporter of students via open enrollment.

School Levy Tax Credit

Senate: Decrease the Governor’s proposed $87 million increase in the distribution amount for the school levy tax credit in 2018-19 by $60 million in the first year. Subsequently, increase the distribution by $42.6 million in the second year, and in each year thereafter.

Assembly:  Decrease by $35 million from the governor’s proposed $87 million increase in the credit distribution in the first year, lowering the increase to $52 million. Provides an additional $60 million above the governor’s proposed $87 million increase in the second year, raising the increase to $147 million.

WASB: Support state aids being paid directly to school districts and oppose the conversion of state funds into credits.

Look for additional posts on other provisions related to voucher/charter expansion and other items.