25 May Senate Budget Committee Balks at School-Funding Formula (LA)May 25, 2010
By: Jan MollerSource: The Times-Picayune
The Senate budget committee today ordered the state’s top school board to revise the formula for financing the state’s public schools, rejecting a proposal that would have boosted spending by $63 million above the level recommended by Gov. Bobby Jindal.
The move by the Senate Finance Committee means the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has to produce a new plan for distributing more than $3.3 billion in state money between the state’s 69 public school districts.
Senate Concurrent Resolution 20 by Sen. Ben Nevers, D-Bogalusa, would have sent $3.38 billion to public schools in the 2010-11 fiscal year — a 2.75 percent increase over the current year. Jindal has recommended a "stand-still" budget for public schools, which still would raise spending by $46 million because of increased enrollment.
Legislators can accept or reject the formula developed by BESE, but cannot make changes.
Supporters said the extra money is needed because school districts are chafing under the weight of rising pension obligations and other mandated costs. But opponents said the state can’t afford to give public schools more money at a time when other parts of the budget are being cut.
Had lawmakers approved the original formula, they would have had to cut $63 million from other programs.