Tentative Increase Set for Per-Pupil Funding

By: A.J. Hilton Email
By: A.J. Hilton Email

State lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are working day and night, trying to cut more than $430 million from the state budget. Lawmakers still have close to a half-dozen areas of disagreement remaining.

"We believe that in order to get the state back on the right financial footing, we've got to make some significant cuts to state government," said Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop.

But among the tentative cuts there is a bit of optimism.

"The K-12 system will get an increase. It will be a very moderate one percent increase," said Bishop. "It's one of the few departments that are getting an actual increase. The rest are getting cut."

"We're actually very proud that we'll be able to invest more in education in the current fiscal year, so we're happy about that," said Greg Bird, Press Secretary for House Speaker Andy Dillon.

There's still plenty of work to be completed before next week's deadline. No departmental budget bills for the new fiscal year have cleared the legislature. Among the biggest deals to hammer out-- funding for the state's department of corrections, community health, and natural resources.

"A lot of the other departments are going to be having about a two and a half percent reduction," said Bird. "They're necessary in order to help balance the budget, and protect some of the other programs we feel are critical."

"Some of the toughest items are yet to be negotiated, but we need to get it done, we need to have the state move on," said Sen. Patricia Birkolz.

Any delay could cause more cash-flow problems, and a financial foothold could fall apart. Tentative budget sessions have been added for Friday and Monday in case extra time is needed.


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