Amidst several “inquiries about the status of the Maintenance of Effort (MOE) laws since the 2011 session,” the Department of Legislative Services has distributed a 9-page letter to General Assembly members. The letter seeks to cover:
-A brief history of the MOE laws and their application
-A summary of the recent tests of the MOE waiver process
-A summary of the recent changes to the MOE statutes
-The recent declaratory ruling from the State Board of Education on required funding
-Remaining policy issues that the General Assembly may wish to address
The letter’s conclusion spells out a range of policy considerations that the General Assembly may face:
1. Should a penalty for not meeting MOE be assessed to the school board or to the county government? Should it all be assessed in one year or spread out over a number of years?
2. Should the penalty amount be prorated in relation to the amount by which a county does not meet MOE?
3. When applying a penalty to a county, should the penalty be reduced in recognition of the county’s history of exceeding the required MOE amount?
4. Should a county be required to apply for a waiver if it will not meet MOE? Should state law prevent a county government from “rebasing” the required MOE amount?
5. Should changes to the MOE process and factors for determining whether to grant a waiver as agreed by the conference committee to Senate Bill 310 of the 2010 session be enacted, should the changes include further amendments to the MOE law to better align the provisions?
The Senate Budget and Taxation Committee (which has jurisdiction over these school funding laws) has scheduled a briefing on July 26th, where MACo and other stakeholders are expected to discuss the same range of topics that are reviewed in the DLS letter.