Substantial School Construction Funding Left to Governor’s Discretion

Coupled with planned actions in the capital budget bill, the General Assembly’s budget plan dedicates almost $500 million to school construction. $127 million of that funding, however, is pulled from other dedicated purposes, and is thus left to the Governor’s discretion.

The General Assembly increased the Governor’s proposed school construction budget, but left $127 million of allocated school construction funding to the Governor’s discretion.

Here is a breakdown in round numbers of the General Assembly’s FY 2020 school construction budget:

  • $252 million – Public School Construction Program
  • $90 million – Public School Construction Program from Rainy Day Fund (discretionary)
  • $37 million – Public School Construction Program from Retirement Reinvestment Account (discretionary)
  • $68 million – Supplemental Grant Program for districts with enrollment growth above the State’s average or a high number of relocatable classrooms
  • $30 million – Healthy School Facility Fund
  • $10 million – School Safety Grant Program
  • $6 million – Aging Schools Program

The allocations total $493 million.

With regard to the sources of discretionary funding, the State’s Revenue Stabilization Account, or “Rainy Day Fund,” is intended to protect the State in years of recession, while the Retirement Reinvestment Contributions Account is intended to help pay down the State’s unfunded pension liability. It is possible that the Governor declines to take funding from either source, or perhaps only provides some of the funding left to his discretion.

In fiscal year 2019, the State’s budget provided up to $313 million to the State’s main public school construction funding program – the Public School Construction Program. In the current scenario, if the Governor does not provide any of the discretionary funding, the fiscal year 2020 allocation will drop by $62 million for the State’s Public School Construction Program, to $251 million.

The Governor’s budget would have provided $438 million to school construction programs in FY 2020 and $280 million of that funding would have been available for the Public School Construction Program, with an additional $45 million for a new broad-based school construction program. The Governor’s budget would have also provided funding for a revolving loan fund for smaller counties to use to advance school construction projects, an idea set forth by county representatives to the 21st Century School Facilities Commission.

 

 

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