18 April 2007

"Forward" Funding

It's not quite clear to me why lawmakers deserve the pat on the back they seem to think they deserve for putting a billion dollars away for future education funding.

As I understand, this is a billion dollars that gets put in the bank so that next year when lawmakers sit down and decide how to fund education, they've already got the money to do it. (Of course, what happens to the money generated from oil taxes next fiscal year - will that be saved as well?) Lawmakers are trumpeting this as the end of pink slips for teachers because school districts will know how much money they're getting.

But will they? I haven't seen any coverage of this billion dollars being tied to a particular base student allocation or funding of the ISER study or any of the other numerous variables that affect how much school districts get from the state. As I understand it, all that's different now is that school districts know they're getting money from the billion dollars next year, they just don't know how it will be apportioned, which is essentially the same position they're in now.

As well, it doesn't even seem to me that this money is formally tied to education (which may be unconstitutional at any rate). Could lawmakers next term, if need be, put the dollars into some other program? There'd be pressure for them not to, of course, but I can envision scenarios in which the money doesn't go to education.

Lawmakers should get a pat on the back for saving the money, particularly for education and particularly compared to last year's capital budget. But it doesn't seem to me like they deserve a pat on the back for forward funding education like they've always been asked to because, in fact, they have not done that.

1 comment:

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