The 2016-17 budget contains a number of positive measures for schools.
Among them are a nearly $1.5 billion state aid increase, including a substantial foundation aid increase, full funding of expense-based aids, and an end to the much-despised gap elimination adjustment. To the GEA, we say RIP.
As schools tighten their belts to fit within the constraints of this year’s record low tax cap, the infusion of state aid will help them preserve student programs and services while still keeping property taxes in check.
We acknowledge the financial support of community schools, which hold great promise to help struggling schools raise student achievement.
Thankfully, the budget does not include many proposals that would have been damaging to public schools, including a cost shift to make school districts pay more for charter schools, as well as the Education Investment Tax Credit.
Our enthusiasm for the budget is tempered by the continued link between state aid increases and APPR. In the remaining months of the session, we hope lawmakers will revisit the state aid-APPR link, and make sensible adjustments to the property tax cap, including disconnecting the cap from the Consumer Price Index.
With the GEA now gone, lawmakers can turn their attention to a full phase-in of foundation aid in the coming years.
We look forward to working with the governor and Legislature to help bring these changes to fruition.