State Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna said this afternoon that he’s learned that Idaho schools are going to get lots of federal stimulus money “to the tune of $346 million over the next two years, and some of that money could be here as soon as next week. It appears we’re going to receive a considerable amount of money.” Of that $346 million, the largest part, $243 million, is for “budget stabilization,” Luna said, “to resolve the financial crisis that we were trying to deal with in the Legislature to cut public education. … That concern may have gone away. … So that is good news.”
Luna said he’s still not thrilled with the stimulus concept, because, “I am concerned that although we have averted the immediate consequences that we faced, we’ve pushed the consequences to a future generation. We’re doing it with borrowed money.” Nevertheless, he said, “We’ll use the dollars to fill in the gaps.” In addition to filling the holes in next year’s school budget, Luna said, the money may allow some one-time projects to be funded, but he doesn’t want to expand the budget beyond its current level. “This is money that’s only going to be coming for two years,” he said. “I think we would all be very pleased if we end up with a budget for 2010 that’s the same as 2009.”
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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