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2020 Supplemental Operating Budget

The following is an update from Dan Steele regarding the 2020 Legislative Budget:

2020 SUPPLEMENTAL OPERATING BUDGET—FINAL ACTION

The original budget adopted by the Legislature on the last day of the 2020 Session, appropriated $961 million above the underlying 2019–21 budget adopted last year, including approximately $185 million for K–12 education. (Note: this does not include the $200 million to address COVID–19, which came from the Budget Stabilization Account and federal funds.) For the first time in recent memory, the final budget was less than budget proposals adopted by the two houses. Of course, part of that was because budget-writers saw a potential storm brewing with COVID–19. You’ll recall in the waning days of session, spread of the coronavirus was just beginning, but there was little understanding about the potential economic impacts. By reducing the final budget, additional funds were able to be kept in reserve, providing an additional cushion in the Ending Fund Balance to protect against major revenue impacts, due to COVID–19.

Now, a month later, with ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ orders in place, many businesses are closed or are reducing their output, causing financial losses and employment impacts. We are seeing employees losing or being furloughed from their jobs, along with unemployment claims that are breaking records for the number of requests—requests that continue to pour in. Even for those businesses that remain open, customer traffic is limited, and customer spending has dramatically reduced. Obviously, this impacts the resultant tax revenues that flow to the state. Due to expected revenue losses, when the governor signed the budget, he took the step to reduce as much funding in the budget as he could, vetoing numerous new programs and cancelling most enhancements in current programs. K–12 education was not spared in the exercise. In total, the governor vetoed 147 separate expenditure items, reducing $235 million of spending in the remainder of this biennium (ending June 30, 2021) and $210 million of spending in the next biennium. K–12 education funding was reduced by $83.1 million.

There are four major reductions in the K–12 section of the budget:

  • Small Schools Grants—$4.0 million
    The House originally proposed $14.4 million to provide additional funding to all small school districts (under 650 students) with a regionalization factor of at least 1.04. As passed by the Legislature, $4.0 million was provided for school districts under 650 students; however, OSPI would have had to prioritize which districts received that limited funding. The governor vetoed the full appropriation.
  • Paraeducator Training—$14.4 million
    Legislation adopted in 2017 set common statewide standards for paraeducators, including a required four-day fundamental course for all paraeducators. The 2019–21 Operating Budget provided funding for two of the four days of the course. As adopted by the Legislature, the Supplemental Budget appropriated another $14.4 million for two additional days of comprehensive training per year on the fundamental paraeducator standards. The governor vetoed the full appropriation. At this point, it is unclear if there will be some type of waiver or delay to the four-day training requirement, or if school districts will have to eat those additional costs.
  • Guidance Counselors—$31.8 million
    Taking a tiny, baby-step toward updating the outdated staffing ratios in the Prototypical School Funding Model, the Legislature provided $31.8 million to provide for an additional 0.5 FTE counselor for all high-poverty elementary schools. The governor vetoed the full appropriation. As we (in fact, the entire education community) were seeking almost $6.0 billion over the next several years to full update staffing allocations as required by law, the $31.8 million appropriation was about as close to a shut-out as possible. With the governor’s veto, it is a complete shut-out.
  • Pupil Transportation—$29.5 million
    Governor Inslee’s original budget proposal in December, the Senate-adopted budget, the House-adopted budget, and the final budget adopted by the full Legislature included $29.5 million for one-time back-fill funding for excess allocations to school districts in Fiscal Year 2019 that resulted from an erroneous methodology used by OSPI. The governor vetoed the full appropriation.
These four vetoes account for $79.7 million of K–12’s overall reduction. Another $3.4 million comes from the elimination of additional funding for 17 smaller programs; additional educated-related impacts are found throughout the budget.

Complete details of the final, signed budget will be in WASA’s End of Session Report, being prepared now. Additional details of Governor Inslee’s action on the budget: Governor Inslee’s veto message; and complete listing of budget vetoes (Education is Part V of the budget, Sections 501-521).
 

 

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