MACo has joined numerous advocacy groups calling for Governor to release funds for the Geographic Cost of Education Index, or GCEI. This program, partially funded in the budget as submitted, targets areas in the state where providing staff and service requires additional resources. The GCEI was part of the original legislation implementing recommendations of the Thornton Commission, targeting advances in equity and adequacy of state school funding.
The General Assembly passed its budget plan last week, clearing room for the GCEI funds, but only the Governor is able by law to amend the budget to provide the funding.
MACo’s letter also highlights county and school system timing problems arising from any delay in releasing these funds:
We also urge you to make this decision promptly. County governments are already amidst their own budget processes, concluding their deliberations as soon as mid-May. For the thirteen jurisdictions with GCEI funds still pending, the state would be casting a cloud of uncertainty over their own budgeting priorities, with enormous pressure on local tax rates as school systems would surely seek to offset lost funding through local resources. School systems still facing uncertainty after a locally-passed budget would be faced with personnel and facility decisions at the outset of the fiscal year. For all parties, a contingent budget would be a disservice to our schools’ and students’ best interests.
See MACo’s entire letter online, signed by its six sitting officers.