In all, the Legislative Finance Committee budget plan released Monday would increase year-over-year state spending by $670.8 million — or 10.6 percent — and would earmark more than three-fifths of the additional spending for public schools statewide.
“Learning activities for students are going to increase considerably” under the proposed spending infusion, Sen.
However, although the budget proposal is similar in many ways to a separate plan rolled out last week by Gov.
Notably, the legislative budget blueprint would not appropriate an estimated $300 million to pay off a backlog in state film rebates, an action that
A legislative economist said the state would be spending roughly $200,000 per film industry job if the annual cap were eliminated.
In addition, the new Democratic governor, who was sworn into office
“Our budget should be different than the LFC budget,”
“We are completely open to working with every member of the Legislature,”
“We have an awful lot of eggs in one basket,” Smith said. “This state is so heavily reliant on oil and gas.”
Some Republican lawmakers agreed with those comments, calling the proposed spending increases in both the Legislature and governor’s budget plans too aggressive in light of the historic volatility of oil and gas prices.
“The honest truth is both of these budgets are way overspending,” Rep.
Public school spending already makes up 44 percent of the state budget, and that figure would go up under both budget recommendations.
The LFC budget plan would increase public school spending by $416.6 million — or 14.9 percent — and would use some of that money to raise minimum starting teacher pay to $40,000 a year — up from $36,000 — and give all educators a 5.5 percent salary increase. School principals would get an even larger pay hike.
In addition, the state’s funding formula for public schools would be adjusted so more money would flow to districts with large populations of Native American, disabled and low-income students, along with English-language learners.
Also, an existing K-3 Plus program that provides summer school for roughly 300 low-income or low-performing schools statewide would be expanded to include fourth- and fifth-grade students.
Top-ranking legislators expressed confidence Monday that the education package, which will be introduced as stand-alone legislation, would sufficiently address a
Retired District Judge
“I think this budget … has addressed exactly what the judge asked us to do,” said
Some groups involved in the court case have called for a funding increase in the $1 billion range, but House Speaker
“There is simply no way for $1 billion to be absorbed by the state’s 89 school districts” in a year, Egolf said.
Raise for state workers
After nearly a decade of little or no salary growth, other state workers would pocket larger paychecks under the legislative budget plan rolled out Monday.
Rank-and-file state employees would get a 4 percent salary bump, and judges would receive a 6 percent salary increase.
In addition, the plan calls for $27.2 million to be spent during the coming budget year to increase how much money the state pays into the retirement accounts of teachers and state workers.
Both of the state’s two large public retirement systems have seen their unfunded liabilities increase in recent years, and a
Meanwhile, the LFC budget plan also calls for about $400 million to be spent on state and local road projects, and additional one-time spending on other infrastructure projects. That money would come from surplus state dollars, not from issuing new state bonds.
Even with the ramped-up spending, nearly $1.5 billion would be set aside in cash reserves in case projected state revenue levels do not materialize.
The governor’s budget plan and the Legislature’s recommendation will serve as blueprints of sorts as lawmakers get to work coming up with a final budget for the fiscal year that starts in July.
Comparison of budget plans
The budget recommendation released Monday by the Legislative Finance Committee is largely similar to a separate plan proposed by Gov.
–Both call for an increase in the public school funding formula for at-risk students, including
–Salaries for teachers and state workers would go up under both plans. Teachers would get a 5.5 percent raise under the LFC plan and a 6 percent hike under the governor’s plan.
–Taxpayer-funded retirement contributions for teachers and state workers would increase under both plans.
–The LFC plan would not appropriate funding to pay off an estimated $300 million backlog in state film rebates; the governor’s plan would.
–A state “closing fund” for economic development would get $75 million under the governor’s plan and just $4 million under the LFC’s recommendation.
–State prekindergarten programs would get about $25 million more under
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