School funding formula benefits Northern Virginia but not other areas
Here's a corner of the budget that's likely to get a good hard look next year, when lawmakers do revisions on the second year of their two-year spending plan: In the budget approved Sunday, General Assembly agreed to "hold harmless" localities that lose out from updating the formula that determines state funding for local schools next year, but only 50 percent harmless in the following year.
This won't have a big impact on Northern Virginia, but it will affect much of the rest of the state and it can't be long before we start hearing from local officials in those areas that will lose out from the decision.
When Gov. Tim Kaine proposed a budget back in December, one item got local leaders across Northern Virginia fired up--Kaine suggested freezing the every-two-year adjustment of the school funding formula that determines how much money each district receives from the state to run its schools.
Northern Virginians have complained for years that the so-called "local composite index" shortchanges the region's schools. But adjusting the formula this year would have, for once, helped the region and so there was a lot of protest when Kaine suggested the freeze.
So much protest, in fact, that Gov. Bob McDonnell announced in February that he favored doing the normal update to the formula after all. That would have meant restoring school funding for Northern Virginia but, in turn, offering less funding to 96 other school districts, most of them less affluent than NoVa. We're talking pretty much all of the state's urban districts and most of its rural areas.
To try to satisfy everyone in these difficult economic times, the General Assembly came up with a fix. They would allow the formula to update, benefiting NoVa--a decision that would cost the state $29.5 million over the two-year budget. But then they would also spend money to hold harmless districts that would lose out from the update. So they would also get more money.
But, here's the rub. In the final budget approved Sunday, legislators agreed to hold those districts fully harmless in the first year of the budget, at a cost of $116.5 million, but only half harmless in the second year, at a cost of $57.6 million.
Think that won't come up next year? We'll take that bet and see you in January 2011.
March 15, 2010; 3:46 PM ET
Categories: General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman , State Senate , Thomas M. Davis III
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