(May 10) – The bipartisan School Finance Act, which sets higher than expected funding levels for the coming school year, passed the Senate and House again tonight after some changes to better support rural school districts facing the negative factor for the first time were approved. The bill has widely been accepted as a victory in a year when many legislators feared the worst.
“We are all relieved to see a School Finance Act pass both chambers that increases per pupil funding,” said Rep. Millie Hamner, prime sponsor of the bill. “This bill has support from both parties in both chambers because putting our kids first is one priority we can all agree on. That’s not to say we are funding our schools sufficiently—every school in our state is struggling to deal with the negative factor. We need a better solution to give students and teachers in every corner of the state adequate resources and I will continue to work on solutions—as I have throughout my six years serving in the legislature—that allow our budget to prioritize education.”
HB16-1422 does what many thought was impossible this year: it expands funding for K-12 schools and holds the negative factor at last year’s level. The bill also establishes a new $1 million grant program for rural school districts who are dealing with the negative factor for the first time. The bill also manages to reach a compromise on many charter school issues that have been contentious this session.
The governor’s original budget proposal released in November grew the K-12 negative factor by $50 million and cut the state education fund by $240 million.
The bill now proceeds to the governor’s desk.