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Legislature closes $650 M gap in ’09 budget

Today, the Senate and House Republicans acted swiftly to close a $650 million gap in the final weeks of the fiscal 2009 budget. The budget fix includes $250 million in federal stimulus money and a delayed payment of $100 million to the universities. It also includes a temporary suspension of a $300 million cash payment to K-12 that will be offset by school district cash balances in excess of their legal spending authority.

The proposal suspends $300 million of the $330 May 15 apportionment payment, causing districts to spend their own cash through the end of the fiscal year. Districts without cash will use registered warrants, as is normal practice. The $300 million will be held in reserve as budgets are adopted and submitted to the counties and used to fill in any holes from negative cash balances and warrants.

This is a very modest approach to help avoid worsening the state’s accumulated (education funding) rollover, by offsetting the amount with excess school district dollars that they do not have the legal authority to spend. School districts will spend their own money in their own districts and we are not sweeping or reverting money to the state general fund. No school district will lose any spending authority. Instead, we are giving them authorization to spend money they were not previously authorized to spend.

Bill info:

SB 1189– technical correction; adoption (NOW: supplemental reductions; appropriations; FY 2008-2009)

SB 1190– agriculture administrative fund; technical correction (NOW: school district balances; allocations)

The legislation has been sent to the governor, who is expected to sign it. Lawmakers have made adjustments of more than $2 billion this fiscal year. They continue to work simultaneously on the 2010 budget

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