Mark Miller “explains” how State budget isn’t all that bad

In a remarkable act of denial, Senator Mark Miller has issued the following release absolving himself and his colleagues of all responsibility for the legislative actions that have exacted significant hits on public schools. Passing the buck for the accuracy of the data that was used to calculate aid cuts, and omitting the critical information that federal economic recovery funds will make up for some but not all of the loss in state aid, Miller claims that somehow public schools do not have it so bad. Or at least not as bad as other state agencies.
Regardless of how the comparisons stack up, it takes real imagination to assert that somehow the legislatures protected public education in this budget.

For Immediate Release Contact: Sen. Mark Miller
July 15, 2009 (608) 266-9170
Sen. Mark Miller issued the following statement regarding DPI’s July 1 preliminary general school aid distribution:
In May, when the Joint Finance Committee confronted a dramatic $1.6 billion additional loss in anticipated state revenue, it acted decisively to limit reductions in school aids to $147 million; substantially less than the $237 million cut originally feared necessary. It also took action to limit any aid reduction resulting from the $147 million cut to no more than 10% of a school district’s aid. This goal was accomplished using the most current data available to the committee as provided by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB).
Preliminary data provided by DPI affirms that the Legislature’s action was successful at limiting aid reductions attributable to the $147 million cut to 10% for individual school districts. In fact, for the Madison Metropolitan School District, the only reduction in
aid attributable to the $147 million cut approved by the Legislature is $4,519, or 0.0088%.
There are, however, 99 school districts that will see aid reductions of approximately 15%, including the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) which will see a cut of 15.2% according to the latest figures from DPI. These large cuts are primarily a function of the school aid formula, not the Legislature’s action on the 2009-11 budget. According to a recent LFB memo, MMSD is losing aid because of increases in its property values and per pupil expenditures relative to the rest of the state, not because of the $147 million school aid reduction. In fact, even if the legislature acted today to restore the $147 million cut, the majority of these districts – including MMSD – would effectively experience the same reduction in aid.
With the help of federal stimulus dollars and the Legislature’s action to limit reductions in school aids, we were able to protect one of our most basic priorities – educating our children for the jobs of tomorrow – from the deeper cuts that many state agencies received.