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Senate Ways & Means FY18 Budget Recommendations

Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Jeff Wulfson, Deputy Commissioner
Bill Bell, Senior Associate Commissioner for Administration & Finance
Julia Jou, Budget Director
May 17, 2017


Yesterday the Senate Ways & Means Committee (SWM) released its recommendations for the upcoming FY18 state budget year. SWM recommends total state spending of $40.791 billion, representing a 3.3%, increase over FY17 spending. This spending recommendation is based on a projection of a $1.016B (3.9%) increase in tax revenue for FY 2018, as agreed upon during the Consensus Revenue process in January 2017. However, since the recent FY17 state revenue collection has fallen below projection, the final FY18 budget may be lower than either the House or Senate version. The Conference Committee will need to work with the Governor to produce a final budget balanced with available FY18 revenues.

Although the SWM budget recommendations are $141 million above the Department's current spending authorization, the increases are tied to $145.3 million in increases to Ch. 70 and Circuit Breaker accounts; the Department's other accounts were reduced or level funded to afford the overall increase.

The Department's recommended appropriations total $5.35 billion, which represents an increase of 2.63% over FY17 spending. SWM largely affirms a commitment to fund education aid for our districts, but does not include funding for the Governor's H2 proposals for consolidated early literacy and career technical education and STEM programs.

The following summarizes the SWM recommendations. Our budget tracking spreadsheet is attached, showing detail for all Department appropriations.

  1. Education Local Aid & Reimbursements

    Chapter 70 aid (7061-0008) is increased by $128.8M (2.7%) over FY17. The increase is designed to allow for a minimum aid increase of $30 per pupil over FY 2017 for every school district and 85% effort reduction to bring cities and towns closer to their contribution targets. The SWM budget increases the foundation budget rates for employee health insurance and out of district special education tuition, in line with the recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission (FBRC). It also adopts the FBRC recommendation to increase the assumed in-district special education enrollment percentage to 4% (5% for vocational students). The line item also contains an earmark to provide transitional relief to districts whose FY18 Chapter 70 aid and tuition revenue are significantly and negatively impacted by the change in low-income enrollment measurement.

    House funding for the Special Education Circuit Breaker account (7061-0012) is increased by $16.5 million over FY17, The METCO grant program (7010-0012) sees a $357,418 increase. Regional School Transportation (7035-0006), Non-Resident Vocational Student Transportation and Transportation Reimbursement for Homeless Students (7035-0008) are all level funded. Charter School Tuition Reimbursements (7061-9010) is also level funded. We estimate this will cover 100% reimbursement for the capital facility component of charter tuition ($893 per student) and 69.3% of first-year tuition increases.

  2. Grant Programs

    • SWM does not support the Governor's proposal to create a consolidated Targeted Assistance and Innovation account. Instead, SWM recommends a $250,000 cut to Targeted Assistance (7061-9408) and a $300,000 increase (excluding earmarks) to the After-School Grant Program (7061-9611) over the FY17 budget.

    • SWM budget eliminates the Bay State Reading line item but adds a $250,000 earmark for that program to the Consolidated Literacy Program (7010-0033).

    • Funding for School to Career Connecting Activities (7027-0019) is reduced by $69,602 vs. FY17 level (excluding earmarks).

    • SWM recommends a $1.5M increase to the Adult Basic Education (7035-0002).

    • The SWM budget restores funding to the Innovation Schools (7061-9011) account at $300,000.

    • SWM does not support the Governor's budget recommendation for the Student Assessment account (7061-9400) and funds it $4M below the required level for FY18.

    • The funding for the Alternative Student Assessment Pilot Program Consortium (7061-9401), which had been cut in FY17, is restored at $400,000.

    • SWM agrees with the Governor's House 1 budget and proposes the elimination of the College and Career Readiness Program (7061-9406).

    • The SWM budget recommends an increase of $101,400 to the Safe and Supportive Schools Grant program (7061-9612) over the FY17 level.

    • The recommended increases to DESE Administration (7010-0005) and Consolidated Literacy (7010-0033) in the SWM budget are entirely dedicated to legislative earmarks for specific programs.

    In accordance with the House 1 budget, SWM also proposes the transfers of the WPI Schools of Excellence (7061-9624) account from the Department of Higher Education to ESE.

  3. DESE Administrative Resources

    SWM maintains DESE's administrative funding consistent with House 1 and the House budget plans. DESE will work with reduced state payroll funding resulting from last year's Voluntary Separation Incentive Program. This reduced funding totals $752,812 in the following three accounts that fund agency staff.

    • 7010-0005 Main Administration
    • 7028-0031 Special Education in Institutional Settings
    • 7061-9408 Targeted Assistance to Schools & Districts

The SWM recommendations will be debated in the full Senate next week. After that, the budget will go to the Conference Committee, where the downturn in projected state revenues is likely to dominate the discussion. We will have a further update on the FY18 budget at our May 23, 2017, Board meeting next week.

Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.


Download Excel Document
FY18 SWM Budget Spreadsheet

Last Updated: May 17, 2017
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