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February20

A Hoghouse in Appropriations

Two bills received big changes at Tuesday’s Senate Appropriations committee hearing that will in turn have big effects on K-12 funding.

 

Committee members passed an amended version of Senate Bill 28 on a 6-2 vote. SB 28 revises the property tax levies for school districts’ general and special education funds.

 

The bill is a mash up of SB 28, which in its previous version only adjusted the general fund levy, and Senate Bill 15, which was initially the levy bill for special education.

 

SB 28 presents a predicament because it raises the tax levy for special education by $0.15 – the maximum level would be set at $1.552 per thousand dollars of taxable valuation and state aid qualifying level at $1.352 – and also provides the three percent increase for schools proposed by the governor.

 

State Economist Jim Terwilliger previously testified that if the special education levy is not increased the “state would be picking up a higher percentage” of special education funding, which jeopardizes the proposed three percent increase.

 

“It’s a difficult situation because if we oppose the tax increase to the special education levy we lose the three percent increase schools desperately need,” Executive Director Wade Pogany said.

 

General education levies would see a raise to the non-agricultural levy of $0.535, up to $9.163 per thousand dollars of valuation, a decrease of $0.24, down to $2.082 for the agricultural levy and an increase to the owner-occupied levy of $0.25, up to $4.279.

 

SB 28 would also set the special education state-to-local effort proportion at 39-61 percent, respectively, and caps the Extraordinary Cost Fund at $5.5 million. Districts can apply for ECF dollars with a fund balance at 10 percent, which is up from the five percent level previously allowed.

 

New look for 15

 

The hoghouse of SB 28 led to an overhaul of Senate Bill 15. The bill now allows school districts to use up to 15 percent of their special education fund dollars to identify K-12 students who need additional academic and behavioral interventions and prevent them being identified as having a learning disability.

 

School districts would apply for approval from the Department of Education to use the funds for intervention and would not be able to apply for ECF dollars for three years.

 

Each bill will be heard on the Senate floor this afternoon and must be passed to the House or deferred by the end of the day. For updates on the bills, check the ASBSD blog and bill tracker.

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