The House’s education funding plan would cost much more than the Senate’s

The state released its fiscal note of SSB 5607 (the Senate-passed education funding bill) on Friday. It shows a substantial gap between the resources needed to fund the Senate and House plans.

According to the fiscal note, SSB 5607 would increase state spending by $2.424 billion in 2017–19, $4.081 billion in 2019–21, and $1.860 billion in 2021–23. (As shown in the table below, the number for 2021–23 is so low because of the repeal of I-1351.) Meanwhile, the fiscal note for HB 1843 (released Feb. 22) estimates that it would increase state spending by $1.763 billion in 2017–19, $5.822 billion in 2019–21, and $7.005 billion in 2021–23. (You can access the fiscal note for the Senate bill here; for the House bill here).

The fiscal note for SB 5607 also shows the estimated collections from the new “local effort levy” (the state-mandated property tax that would replace­—to an extent—local maintenance and operations levies). Collections would total $1.682 billion in 2017–19, $4.698 billion in 2019–21, and $5.255 billion in 2021–23. These receipts would cover new state spending after the first biennium.

As we have written (see here, here, and here), the two plans represent completely different ways to respond to the state Supreme Court’s McCleary decision. Even so, at first glance, they appear to have similar price tags. Over four years, HB 1843 would cost $7.585 billion and SB 5607 would cost $6.505 billion. But because of I-1351, that isn’t the full story.

I-1351 (class size reductions for grades K–12) was approved by voters in 2014, but it was suspended by the Legislature in 2015 before being implemented. So, under current law, 50 percent of the spending related to I-1351 must be funded in 2019–21 and all of the spending must be funded in 2021–23. SB 5607 would repeal I-1351 entirely. HB 1843, on the other hand, would fund the initiative. Furthermore, because HB 1843 would increase staff compensation, it would also increase the cost of complying with I-1351. The estimate of HB 1843’s fiscal impacts cited above includes those increased costs to I-1351.

The cost estimate for HB 1843 does not include the full costs of funding I-1351, however. This is appropriate for a fiscal note, the purpose of which is to show what the fiscal change from a proposal would be.

For the purpose of fully comparing HB 1843 to SB 5607, though, it seems appropriate to consider the total cost of funding both HB 1843 and I-1351. That is the number highlighted in the table (click on it for a larger image). It shows how far apart the two proposals really are.

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