Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Michigan Budget Outlook: What is the “Revenue Estimating Conference” and why is it important to K-12 education?

The Revenue Estimating Conference is a semi-annual meeting of the state treasurer and directors of the House and Senate fiscal agencies at which they determine, to the best of their abilities, how much tax revenue the state will have to spend over the next two years.
The most recent Revenue Estimating Conference took place on January 11 in Lansing.  The conclusions made there serve to inform legislators, the Governor, and local school boards regarding the need for mid-year cuts and the anticipated level of revenue available for the next budget cycle.  Governor Granholm will propose a budget to the legislature in February, and the house and senate will then begin the contentious process of reconciling her budget with their ideas, and eventually pass the final budget for the fiscal year that begins November 1.  
Here are some of the conclusions from Monday's Revenue Estimating Conference:  
Tax collections for the general fund and the school aid fund will be $17.36 billion this year, a 5.1 percent decline compared to a year ago and $17.44 billion next year. The consensus revenue numbers minus about $1 billion in federal recovery cash mean the general fund, the state's main checking account, will be $1.2 billion short and school aid will be short $423 million -- or $268 per pupil -- next year, said Gary Olson, director of the Senate Fiscal Agency. State Budget Director Bob Emerson said based on the numbers it doesn't appear any further budget cuts will be required this year. That also means no mid-year reductions in school aid. But he estimated a $1.8 billion problem for the next fiscal year. Emerson added the 2011 budget will be tougher than this year's, because additional cuts will have to come on top of difficult reductions made this year.

What does this mean for EGRPS?  The Board of Education managed the $165/pupil cut to funding for the current school year through a combination of using some of the fund balance (savings), and making $810,000 in cuts to programs and staff.  For the 2010/2011 school year, the administration is tentatively planning a budget that assumes a $300/pupil cut in funding, (nearly $1 million total) which will be addressed by using some of the fund balance and implementing further severe cuts to programs and staff.
For more information and an opportunity to veiw and participate in a forum on the finances of EGRPS, please visit the new Ning created by Kevin Phillips, Assistant Superintendent for Business, at egrpsfinance.ning.com

You are invited to attend the Town Hall Meeting on Monday, February 8, at 7:00 p.m. in the Little Auditorium to let your legislators know that education funding is important to you, and to Michigan.  (More Town Hall Meeting information in the post below.)