When the legislature met on Saturday, December 11 in Special Session to enact a fix to their current year spending plan, they only adopted about $600 million in cuts and revenue transfers to address their nearly $1.2 billion shortfall.

Cuts to education funding provided over half of those reductions.  The remaining $592 million balance must be addressed when they meet in regular session starting in January.  As foreshadowed in my message on the Governor’s proposal for the next biennium earlier this week, she released her proposal today to address this spending shortfall for the current school (and state fiscal) year.  Unfortunately, education (specifically K-12)  provides greater than 2/3rds of this proposed solution.

To keep this in context, these proposed reductions are on top of over $2 billion in cuts already made to education earlier in this biennium.

Higher Education institutions will be spared any further cuts during this current year shortfall, as they have already been reduced such that any further reductions would violate the maintenance of effort requirements that resulted from the acceptance of the federal stimulus funds in the past several years.

Proposed K-12 Reductions/Funding Shifts:

Overall, proposed funding for K-12 in the current school year would be reduced by an additional $ 402 million.  In total dollar terms, the largest impact to K-12 in addressing the shortfall is derived from shifting $253 million from the apportionment payment due to school districts in June, to payment in July.  This effectively moves the cost from this (2009-11) biennium to the next (2011-13) biennium.  While some districts may experience cash flow problems as a result of this shift in payment dates, it is not expected that this will affect their ability to pay educators in a timely fashion.  The proposal does include the provision of a $13 million contingency fund should any districts not be capable of accommodating the cash flow shortfall.  However, the proposed cuts would have a much larger impact on the education of students in Washington.

The other major reductions proposed for K-12 include:

· Eliminate state K-4 class size reduction funds retroactively for the entire 2010-11 school year. ($42.1 million)
· Reduce levy equalization payments to eligible districts by 6.297 percent for the 2011 calendar year.   ($18.0 million)
· Eliminate the Highly Capable (gifted student) program retroactive to July 1, 2010.  ($7.1 million)
· Enrollment Adjustment – K-12 enrollment is 1,540 students lower than originally budgeted.  ($20.7 million)
· Fund shift of $85 million in General Fund costs to the Education Legacy Trust Fund.
· School based Medicaid funding eliminated.  ($1.8 million)
· Eliminate Summer Vocational Skills Center funding.  ($1.8 million)

Please note that several of these proposed items had been proposed prior to the legislature’s December Special Session and were not accepted by the legislature.  Nonetheless, the legislature will again be afforded the opportunity to make any final decisions on how to address the remaining shortfall in the current year budget.  Should any of you have any spare time during the holidays, you might spend a few moments to email your legislators and help them understand that these cuts will hurt students and are unacceptable to educators.