This article from the Herald Times was interesting. Seems a legislator wants to decrease the amount of the budget cut by 20 Million by using some dollars ear-marked for education spending. The Governor's office had a response that evidently sounded something like..."Yeah...but then the state might be fulfilling their financial obligations passed by previous legislators..that is not our mission. Our mission is to put public schools in their place." OK maybe I am paraphrasing a little.
Interesting reading though. This was printed from the Herald-Times.
Simpson: $20 million in account for schools Money could be used to fill funding gap, but spokeswoman says governor is opposed to that by Andrew Graham, Herald-Times Staff WriterFebruary 2, 2005
State Sen. Vi Simpson, D-Ellettsville, says there is an additional $20 million previously set aside for school corporations which could help the state meet fiscal obligations to them.
Gov. Mitch Daniels notified Indiana school corporations last week that the state did not intend to pay out $26.7 million that had been earmarked for the schools by the state funding formula.
But Simpson contends that $20 million of unspent 2003-04 Department of Education allocation was designated by Daniels' predecessor, Joe Kernan, for the express purpose of helping address any such deficiency. And that the money remains available.
Jane Jankowski, a spokeswoman for Daniels, said Tuesday night that the governor's office is aware of the $20 million but wasn't aware it was designated to help cover the deficiency.
Jankowski cited a 2004 memo from Kernan budget director Marilyn Schultz that discussed several differ- ent possibilities for the money other than addressing the school funding formula deficiency.
"It was a memo to (State Superintendent of Public Instruction) Suellen Reed regarding requests the money might be used to fund: textbooks, full-day kindergarten, Marion County desegregation, special education and a couple of other things," Jankowski said from her home Tuesday evening. "She said any decision regarding use of the money would have to be cleared with the governor and the Legislature.
"If no agreement was reached as to how the money would be used, it would revert back (to the state's general fund) in fiscal 2005."
Simpson, speaking by cell phone, said the money was originally part of the allocation to the state Department of Education for its tuition support and special education categories. The amount left unspent was $24.8 million.
While $4 million was allowed to revert to the state's general fund and $800,000 went toward a subsequent special education project the Department of Education wanted to pursue, the $20 million balance was placed into a nonreverting escrow account.
Simpson said the Kernan administration made clear it designated the money to address the unpaid balance. And it didn't hide the money. "They informed the (combined Senate-House) budget committee (about the money)," Simpson said. "Suellen (Reed) knew about it. The money is there, but nobody seems to be talking about it.
"Either the (Daniels) administration didn't know about it, or has chosen to do something else with the money."
Jankowski said the Daniels administration does not intend to use the money to address the 2005 funding deficiency. It has no intention of finding any funds to make the payments, given the status of the state's budget, she said.
"Making that deficiency payment would be a base budget adjustment which would increase the dollars required in future fiscal years, and the governor feels our state's financial condition does not permit us to do that," Jankowski said. "We'd be adding another $27 million to the base this year (and) an estimated $100 million over the next biennium.
"If you fill that deficiency, that adjusts the base upwards each successive year, so that you're starting at a higher level each year."
Simpson maintained the state budget isn't the issue, since the money is contained in a separate account and not part of current budget computations.
"They can't use the budget as an excuse," Simpson said. "This money isn't in the cash balance or the surplus statement. But it is available, and it was set aside for the express purpose of covering deficiency in funding formula payments.
"My question now, I guess, would be what does (Daniels) plan to do with the money? Is he going to revert it and put it back in the cash balance? My personal opinion is we ought to use the money to pay the schools what we owe them."
Reporter Andrew Graham can be reached at 331-4346 or by e-mail at email@example.com.