Common Ground: School Funding

03/12/2018 06:04 PM

School funding is often one of the most debated parts of a budget—drawing criticism from lawmakers, school districts and parents. When money gets low—school districts are usually hit pretty hard.

Many in the education community were worried the 2018-2020 biennium budget was going to hurt schools after Gov. Matt Bevin proposed major cuts to programs and funding. Those same people were pleasantly surprised when the House budget revealed increases in funding for K-12 education, garnering support from a wide margin of Democrats.

House Bill 200 restored the full $127.8 million for transportation costs, which Bevin had proposed cutting.

The budget also increases the Support Education Excellence in Kentucky or SEEK funding at the highest per-pupil funding level it’s seen. Requiring a per-pupil base of $4,055 for FY 2019 and $4,056 for FY 2020.

Bill Sponsor Steven Rudy,R-Paducah, acknowledged the budget wasn’t perfect, but thought everyone would be able to get behind the increases in education funding.

“We tried to restore what we thought the big things were in priorities and with that we were able to say at the end of this budget even though there were a lot of tough things that have taken place for many agencies we did not lose sight of it being the taxpayers money, we invested the taxpayers money at an all-time high for K-12 per pupil guarantees, higher than it had ever been before. We restored some critical areas meanwhile we cut a few others that the Governor didn’t,” Rudy said.

Prioritizing education in the budget was a main sticking point for Minority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, when voicing his support for the Republican crafted legislation.

“I’m voting yes because around $60 million of this money is going to go into a first time increase for the Seek formula to put us over $4,000 for the first time,” Adkins said. “I’m going to vote for this bill because it’s going to restore transportation needs of $127.5 million to transportation of school districts across the Commonwealth of Kentucky that is being threatened to having to shut their doors.”

While members of the House were able to mostly agree on the budget—it faces an uncertain future in the Senate. Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, has already said some of his members won’t support the tax increases in the House budget, and without an increase in revenue it would be hard for the state to fulfill the school funding promises in the bill. The Senate has been focusing on Senate Bill One, the pension reform bill, and has yet to take up the budget passed by the House earlier this month. And until the Senate takes up the budget, we won’t know if the increases in school funding will remain intact.

Watch the segment:

Michon Lindstrom

Michon is a producer for Pure Politics. Michon comes to Kentucky from Springfield, Illinois where she served as the statehouse reporter for the NBC affiliate. During her time in the Land of Lincoln she covered the state’s two year budget impasse and the largest school funding overall in Illinois history. Pure Politics airs weeknights at 7 and 11:30 on Spectrum News. Follow Michon on Twitter at @MichonLindstrom or reach her by email at michon.lindstrom@charter.com

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