JFAC learned this morning that Idaho’s share of stimulus money for education budget stabilization is $201.7 million. But that’s for both public schools and higher education, and it’s for three years: Fiscal years 2009, 2010 and 2011. Half the amount could be used up just to make up the fiscal year 2009 6 percent budget holdbacks. Though the state has initially planned to protect public schools from those holdbacks by use of its public schools stabilization fund, it might not be eligible for the federal money if it did that, as the money is to make up cuts. The public schools portion of the 2009 holdbacks of 6 percent is equal to $85.1 million, and the higher ed portion is $18.2 million. “That still doesn’t help us for 2011, which may be the worst year yet,” said Senate Finance Chairman Dean Cameron, R-Rupert. Paul Headlee, legislative budget analyst for public schools, said, “When you do the math, we don’t see the allocation to be sufficient to restore funding in those three fiscal years.”
Cameron called the talk that the stimulus could save Idaho from its first-ever public school cuts next year “exaggerated.” He said, “So obviously that’s disappointing news.”
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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