The Legislature’s budget committee is in the process of voting on a series of motions to make the governor’s 4 percent holdbacks permanent. So far, they’ve made one alteration - the governor wanted to account for a 4 percent holdback in public schools, then make it up from the school stabilization fund, but he also wanted to hold back the $3.9 million in funding for the math initiative and make that up from the fund as well. Yesterday, JFAC members noted that that essentially trimmed the math initiative funds twice - it took 4 percent of them and replaced them, and then took the whole amount and replaced it, too. The result of JFAC’s motion, which passed unanimously, is that the Legislature would dip into the school stabilization fund at this point for $56.7 million rather than $60.7 million, leaving another nearly $4 million still in the fund. There’s no change in school funding this year either way, because school holdbacks are all made up. But there’s a change in the amount left in the backup fund - it’d keep $3.9 million.
“We all know the public schools are our highest priority, the education of our children,” said Senate Finance Chairman Dean Cameron, R-Rupert. “This helps continue those contracts and protect public schools so that they can continue through this fiscal year without being harmed. Now obviously we can’t tell what’s going to happen here the next several months.” If there are further holdbacks and further shortfalls, he said, “We may have to come back and address more out of the public school stabilization fund for this session.”