- The Washington Times - Friday, January 16, 2009

RICHMOND | Gov. Tim Kaine’s proposed budget for 2008-10 will trim nearly $700 million from Virginia’s public education system.

A report presented Thursday to the state Board of Education detailed the amendments proposed by Mr. Kaine, a Democrat, to the Direct Aid to Public Education budget. The reductions are being proposed in light of a projected $2.9 billion drop in overall state general fund revenues stemming from the nationwide economic meltdown.

The proposed amendments to the 2008-10 budget will reduce state funding for K-12 education by $96.1 million in the 2009 fiscal year, which ends June 30, and by $602.6 million in the 2010 fiscal year, which starts July 1, according to the summary presented by Kent Dickey, the Department of Education’s assistant superintendent for finance.

The budget passed in the 2008 General Assembly session included a $961 million increase in state funding from the 2008 fiscal year, but state revenues since have fallen and Mr. Kaine last month had to propose overall spending reductions.

The education reductions in the current fiscal year resulted from lowered projections in enrollment, lower receipts from the Virginia Lottery, which funds public education, and shrinking sales-tax receipts, Mr. Dickey said.

School divisions don’t have the power to raise tax rates, so they will have to make up the losses by finding ways to cut spending.

The report estimates that lottery revenue is expected to be $30.5 million lower in the current fiscal year and $30.8 million lower in the following fiscal year. The estimated amount that K-12 education will receive from state sales-tax receipts is expected to fall by $68.5 million for fiscal 2009, and by $80.1 million the following fiscal year.

The cuts for the 2010 fiscal year, however, will target actual spending. One measure proposes to cap spending on school support staff, which would result in a reduction of $340.9 million. Eliminating planned 2 percent raises for teachers and support staff will save $71.6 million, and eliminating the use of lottery funds for school construction grants and using lottery funds to pay for education programs now paid for by state general funds would save $55.8 million.

Funding for public schools represents about 34 percent of Virginia’s budget.

The amount of state funding to local school divisions would fall by $375 million, or 6 percent, between the 2009 and 2010 fiscal years under the proposed cuts, Mr. Dickey said.

In Rockingham County, for example, the school division faces a 4 percent revenue reduction, or $4.5 million. Finance Director Cheryl Mast said the division is looking at all departments and programs for potential savings.

Mr. Kaine also is proposing other changes that include allowing school divisions to carry over unspent funds from the 2009 fiscal year to the next, if they meet certain requirements.


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