In a recent Op-Ed for Connecticut Viewpoints, the Executive Director of the School Finance Project Katie Roy, points out one glaring flaw in the Democrat budget plan: Its fix for the state’s education funding formula is actually less viable than the current formula!
So much so that it would take over fifty years for the proposed formula to be fully implemented. — for more on this, here’s an excerpt of Roy’s post which explains the proposal:
“…On its face, the revised Education Cost Sharing (ECS) grant formula in the House Democratic budget proposal may appear to be a step toward progress and equitable funding. For example, the formula includes weights for low-income students and English Learners (driving resources to students with greater learning needs) and uses a state share ratio that more accurately provides a complete picture of a community’s wealth, with property wealth (determined by a town’s Equalized Net Grand List per Capita) being weighted at 60 percent and income wealth (determined by a town’s Median Household Income) being weighted at 40 percent.
However, a deeper analysis into the House Democratic formula to distribute education aid to local school districts reveals it is far from a solution to Connecticut’s long-standing school finance challenges.
The House Democratic proposed ECS formula has multiple flaws, from keeping special education funding “incorporated” into the ECS grant’s foundation to failing to address Connecticut’s complex, illogical web of 10 other funding formulas used to distribute state dollars to other types of public schools. However, these flaws pale in comparison to the proposed formula’s fully-funded cost and its phase-in plan.
To fully fund the House Democrats’ proposed ECS formula, the State of Connecticut would have to spend over $800 million more than it is currently spending on education. To put that in comparison, to fully fund the most recent version of the ECS formula, Connecticut would need to spend approximately $600 million more. The General Assembly stopped using that formula after just one year because it could not fund it. Despite this fact, House Democrats have proposed a formula that would cost $200 million more than the formula the state already cannot afford to fully fund.
Even if one ignores Connecticut’s fiscal and economic state and chooses to believe that a formula that would cost an additional $800 million to fully fund is an achievable goal, the House Democrats’ proposed formula has another major flaw that is even harder to ignore: its phase-in plan.
Under the House Democrats’ proposed phase-in plan, towns receiving less than their fully-funded grant would be phased-in at a rate of less than two percent over the two-year biennium budget period. That means it will take more than 50 years for a district to see its full funding from the formula. So, by the time this year’s first graders are entering retirement, their school districts may be finally fully-funded under the House Democrats’ proposed formula….”
To read the full Op-Ed, here’s a link.
So, after nine weeks without a budget, Democrat legislators present a school funding plan that’s more of the same? I get it. Presenting nothing would be political suicide, but presenting this is merely lip service.
This “new” education funding formula isn’t sensible.
It would be wonderful if the state had $800 million more to add to the education budget, but if the state couldn’t find an additional $600 million for schools, what makes anyone think this plan would work and not end in the legislature abandoning before it’s fully implemented? This is exactly what happened with the ECS grant and partially why schools are in the mess they are in now.
Instead of band-aids and half measure, the state needs real reform that takes into account reality.